Latter-day Saint Artists from around the Globe Show “Meditations on Belief” at International Art Competition

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 15 March 2019

More than 150 pieces of art combine to form the Church's 11th International Art Competition and represent a variety of media, from painting and sculpture to woodcarving and photography.

Article Highlights

  • The Church’s 11th International Art Competition awarded 151 works of art in a variety of media.
  • The theme of the competition—“Meditations on Belief”—was based on Psalm 77:11–12.
  • The exhibition for the competition will run until October 7, 2019, at the Church History Museum.

“I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.” —Psalm 77:11–12

For Latter-day Saint artists across the globe, the Church’s International Art Competition remains a tradition offering unparalleled opportunities to share their talents and testimonies with thousands.

Meanwhile, legions of visitors to the Church History Museum can engage with artwork marked by its diversity of artistic tradition and media. This year’s iteration features the works of artists from Argentina to Malawi and dozens of locales in between.

The artwork on display ranges from traditional oil paintings and wood carvings to sculptures crafted from paper and even LEGOs. Even a panel of recycled cardboard was utilized on a painting from Peru depicting a heroic moment from the book of Joshua.

[Experience the online exhibit now.]

But there's a spiritual unity in the 11th International Art Competition—a consortium of creative voices articulating a joint witness and gospel testimony.

Each of the 151 pieces of art on display in the Church History Museum’s upper floor reveals “the hand of God and meditates upon all His wonders,” said curator Laura Allred Hurtado.

The year’s competition theme—“Meditations on Belief”—draws from Psalm 77:11–12“I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”

For each artist, that Old Testament passage invited a personal, wide-open interpretation.

“I was excited to learn of the theme of this year's competition,” said Utah artist Paige Anderson, whose nonrepresentative oil Fitting Fragment enlists “faith, doubt, incongruities, and paradoxes” and the Church’s celebrated history of quilting.

The galleries showcasing the international competition are filled “with so many artists I admire,” she added.

Anderson hopes visitors take a few moments to study each piece of art, read its explanatory label, and discover shared spiritual connections with its creator.

As in past international competitions, this year’s show allows museum patrons to discover and “identify new artists,” said Carrie Snow, the museum’s manager of Collections and Care.

The entries demonstrate the evolution of Latter-day Saint art, she added.

Many of the pieces on display are far different from what members might find, say, hanging in the hallways of their ward meetinghouse. But that’s the point. The competition captures “new voices” while expanding a cultural legacy “and redefining our visual heritage.”

Julie Yuen Yim’s The Plan of Salvation is crafted from cut Chinese paper and depicts the plan of happiness—from the Creation, to the Fall, to the birth and crucifixion of Christ, to the Resurrection and the Restoration and, finally, eternal life with loved ones.

This painting by Jenedy Paige is on display at the 11th International Art Competition at the Church History Museum.

Selecting the 151 pieces of art for the competition wasn’t easy. Over 900 pieces of art were submitted from almost 30 countries. The artwork was selected by a team of five jurors representing the continents of Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

For juror Herman du Toit of South Africa, reading the testimonies of the submitting artists highlighted the judging process. He was also enthused by the broad range of participants. Their artwork, he noted, “broadens our canon and introduces new voices.”

Despite the openness of the theme, several familiar gospel-anchored subjects organically emerged—including the importance of families, defining moments from the scriptures, devotion to God and His creations, reverence and awe for the divine, the temple, and the central role of women in the gospel.

Julie Yuen Yim’s The Plan of Salvation, for example, reflects the “familiar diversity” of the Church’s International Art Competition. Her piece is cut Chinese paper and, in a single panel, teaches the plan of happiness—from the Creation, to the Fall, to the birth and crucifixion of Christ, to the Resurrection and the Restoration and, finally, eternal life with loved ones.

Viewers of Yuen Yim’s piece will likely recognize key moments from their own lives. They are key players in the plan of salvation.

Several competition entries will be purchased and added to the Church History Museum’s permanent collection.

The International Art Competition runs through October 7, 2019. The museum is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is free.

Christ Healing, a terra-cotta piece by Leroy Transfield, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

The diverse artwork found in the 11th International Art Competition was crafted by Latter-day Saints from more than two dozen countries.

A detail of Ask of God, by Janna Siebert, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

And I Am Here, by Danielle Hatch, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

A detail of The Children Sing: Syracuse, New York, a mixed-media piece by Jacqui Larsen, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Come unto Me, a relief reduction print by Sarah Anne Winegar, is pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Refuge from the Storm, by Hames Shelley, Abraham and the Stars, by Benjamin Pack, and Pondering God’s Promise, by Courtney Vander Veur Matz, left to right, are pictured during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Sarah Anne Winegar, of Springville, and her 3-month-old son, Luca, tour the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum during a media preview in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Winegar has a relief reduction print titled Come unto Me included in the exhibit. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

A detail of Never a Murmur, a cast bronze sculpture by Craig Cunningham, is pictured in front of Lights of Night, an acrylic piece by Roland Thompson, during a media preview for the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

Micah Christensen, founder of Zion Art Society, walks in front of Lights of Night, an acrylic piece by Roland Thompson, while touring the 11th International Art Exhibition at the Church History Museum during a media preview in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.