Faith and Belief Celebrated in Contemporary Art Exhibit at BYU

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 4 July 2017

Ron Richmond’s contemporary oil painting Nativity no. 3 is on display at a scripture-inspired exhibition at BYU’s Museum of Art. Photo by Jason Swensen.

“[The exhibition] brings together art that is insightful, visually dynamic, and thought-provoking. We wanted to represent various modes of contemporary art practice, a range of styles, and approaches that can engage with a broad audience.” —Ashlee Whitaker, BYU Museum of Art curator

PROVO, UTAH

Artwork inspired by the scriptures has long been a staple of Christian-themed paintings, sculptures, textiles, and carvings. Some of the world’s most famous artistic creations—Da Vinci’s Last Supper or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling—have been inspired by sacred writings.

The tradition of envisioning, interpreting, and testifying of key moments from the standard works through visual art continues to this day. Contemporary artists utilize paint, canvas, bronze, stone, and other media to share their faith and beliefs while challenging viewers to reflect and inquire.

A new exhibition at Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art explores the timeless and profound relationship between art and scripture, particularly in the lives of Latter-day Saints.

The Interpretation Thereof: Contemporary LDS Art and Scripture opened at the Church-owned school on June 30 and will be on display through next March.

The free exhibition features more than 45 original pieces of art from a variety of artists—including James Christensen, Ultra Violet, Paige Anderson, and Brian Kershisnik.

“We want this exhibition to help viewers reframe how they approach contemporary visual art and scriptural writings,” said curator Ashlee Whitaker in a museum release. “[The exhibition] brings together art that is insightful, visually dynamic, and thought-provoking. We wanted to represent various modes of contemporary art practice, a range of styles, and approaches that can engage with a broad audience.”

Several central themes in LDS scripture will be explored in the exhibition—including eternal identity, mortality, relationships, and redemption.

Temples and eternity are concepts explored in Nick Stephen’s piece The Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever. Photo courtesy of BYU–MOA.

Curators are confident all visitors to The Interpretation Thereof will find something that connects with them on a personal, familiar level.

“I feel strongly that there will be at least one artwork in this exhibition that will speak specifically to each viewer—their circumstance, their questions, their struggles, their joys,” added Whitaker in the release. “Something in the gallery will open up their minds to better understand their beliefs and their experiences in a new way.”

The Museum of Art is located on the BYU Provo campus. Call 801-422-8287 for more information.

Bruce H. Smith’s oil Bait captures an emotional moment from the New Testament and the life of Jesus Christ. Photo courtesy of BYU–MOA.

Linda Etherington’s oil painting By the Sweat of His Brow captures a family working together in an act of unity and provident living. Photo courtesy of BYU–MOA.

Justin Wheatley’s mixed media work The Man, the Tree, the Rod, and the Words of Strangers and Friends. Photo courtesy of BYU–MOA.