Paintings from the Church’s Second International Arts Competition

By Glen M. Leonard

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    Oil paintings depicting stories from the scriptures, finely crafted pottery, needlework representing themes from the life of Christ, a quilt portraying the worldwide priesthood—these artworks represent the variety of entries in the Second International Art Competition sponsored by the Church’s Museum of Church History and Art.

    More than eight hundred Latter-day Saint artists in forty-two nations responded to the museum’s call in February 1990 to create works of art in which themes from the scriptures are featured. Artists searched the standard works for their inspiration. Then, utilizing varied artistic styles and mediums, they created appealing images based on scriptural themes.

    A six-member jury selected more than two hundred entries from forty-one countries to be displayed in the Salt Lake City museum from 29 March to 2 September 1991. Among these are three winners of awards of distinction and twenty-four winners of awards of merit—both cash awards—as well as twenty-two purchase awards. All awards were funded by an anonymous donor. Five of the award-winning paintings appear in this issue: (1) Women in Christ’s Line by Sallie Clinton Poet, on page 38, winner of both an award of merit and a purchase award; (2) Epiphany by Marcus A. Vincent, on page 41, winner of a purchase award; (3) Jacob and Leah by Bruce H. Smith, on page 41, winner of both an award of merit and a purchase award; (4) Alma and Amulek in Prison, by Gary Kapp, on page 43, winner of an award of merit; and (5) Down into the Water by A. D. Shaw, featured on the inside back cover, winner of both an award of merit and a purchase award. Other winners will appear in the Ensign in the future, on covers or with accompanying articles.

    The exhibition fills four museum galleries with works by talented beginners as well as by artists with years of experience. Art styles representing cultural traditions from every continent are included. Jurors expressed delight at the high quality of the submitted artwork and at the artists’ creativity in representing the people, principles, stories, and messages found in Latter-day Saint scripture.

    “We witnessed high artistic quality in this year’s competition, and a genuine effort to deal creatively with religious ideas,” said Robert Davis, an art curator at the museum and one of the jurors. “The artists who submitted entries come from many cultural traditions, but they share a common gospel orientation. This was reflected in their paintings and sculpture, in quilts, needlework, pottery, and in other artistic endeavors.”

    Many of the participating artists accepted the challenge by creating art to express their testimonies of gospel principles: the Atonement, prayer, baptism, service, peace, and truth, for example. Others turned to Bible stories and events: the Creation, Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Joseph’s coat of many colors, the trials of Job, the story of Esther, the Last Supper, the Savior’s trial in Gethsemane, and the revelation of John. Still others looked to the Book of Mormon, choosing topics such as the Liahona, the people of Limhi, the title of liberty, Christ’s visit to the Nephites, and Moroni with the plates. Modern scriptures inspired other themes such as the First Vision, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, missionary work, Christ’s appearance in the Kirtland Temple, and the pioneer trek.

    “We wanted to recognize artists whose works were judged to be exemplary in treatment of scriptural themes and in representation of high artistic accomplishment,” said Richard Oman, a juror and museum art curator. “We judged batiks from Indonesia on the artistic standard applied to batiks, oil paintings from Chile by Latin American painting standards, and quilts from Utah on the standards applied to quilts. But we expected all artists to look to the scriptures for their themes.”

    Certainly this competition has encouraged Latter-day Saint artists to express their faith through religious art, with the entire Church benefiting from their talents.

    Many Colours

    Many Colours (Gen. 37:3), by M. Edmund Mueller of the Colorado Springs Fifteenth Ward, Colorado Springs Colorado East Stake: “Although the traditional interpretation presents Joseph’s coat as a colorful garment, the Hebrew term might simply describe ‘a long coat with sleeves.’ This piece combines both interpretations in the ornate style of miniature works common to the northern European Renaissance period.”

    The Masses are Yearning

    The Masses are Yearning (Matt. 11:28), by Judith Mehr of the Granger Eighteenth Ward, Salt Lake Granger Stake: “The peoples of the East Bloc nations and Soviet Union long for the gospel to come into their lives. This icon-like painting of Christ uses gold leaf, suggesting the traditional art interpretation of religious subjects from this part of the world.”

    Women in Christ’s Line

    Women in Christ’s Line (Matt. 1:3, 5–6), by Sallie Clinton Poet of the El Cajon Fourth Ward, El Cajon California Stake: “The scriptural lists of ‘begats’ often seem but faceless pieces that blur together. This painting depicts the five women that Matthew names in Christ’s maternal lineage.”

    Turning the Hearts/The Reunion

    Turning the Hearts/The Reunion (D&C 2:2), by Howard Post of the Gilbert Twelfth Ward, Gilbert Arizona Val Vista Stake: “Family ties are strengthened through annual summer reunions at the family home, where stories and ancestral information are shared.”

    Images of Love in Patchwork

    Images of Love in Patchwork (Mal. 4:6), by Mirta Veiga Richards of the Cerritos Second Ward, Cerritos California West Stake: “Fingering the patchwork quilt brings images of love to the mind of this elderly woman, reminding her and us of our eternal and precious families.”


    Epiphany (D&C 76:12), by Marcus A. Vincent of the Edgemont Twenty-first Ward, Provo Utah Edgemont South Stake: “This piece deals with the personal and sudden realization of the divine origin of mankind, and becoming aware of another plane of existence beyond our present sphere of understanding.”

    Prayerful Sisters

    Prayerful Sisters (D&C 14:8), by Larry C. Winborg of the Farmington Second Ward, Farmington Utah Stake: “Throughout the world, lady missionaries are making a major difference in the Lord’s work. These sisters are kneeling in prayer, seeking the power to fulfill their sacred calling.”

    Jacob and Leah

    Jacob and Leah (Gen. 29:31–32) by Bruce H. Smith of the Springville Twenty-fifth Ward, Springville Utah Hobble Creek Stake: “This biblical story has been placed in a contemporary setting with telling gestures and objects with symbolic meaning. After feeling rejection from Jacob, Leah found support from the Lord.”

    The Veil of Familiarity

    The Veil of Familiarity (1 Cor. 13:12), by Linda A. Charney of the Twenty-first North Ward, Salt Lake Emigration Stake: “From my office window in the Church Office Building, I can reflect on the juxtaposing of the world of commerce and the ideals of consecration represented by the temple.”

    Alma and Amulek in Prison

    Alma and Amulek in Prison (Alma 14:26–27), by Gary Kapp of the Provo Third Ward, Provo Utah Central Stake: “I have attempted to capture the power of that terrible moment when the chief judge and his evil accomplices came to a sure knowledge of the Lord’s power and of their own guilt after mocking God.”

    Dedication of the Vernal Tabernacle

    Dedication of the Vernal Tabernacle, August 1907 (D&C 20:61–62), by David R. Ahrnsbrak of the Vernal Sixth Ward, Vernal Utah Ashley Stake: “Church members have gathered to dedicate a new stake tabernacle to the Lord and to receive counsel from President Joseph F. Smith, who also offered the dedicatory prayer. My great-grandfather, stake patriarch Nelson Merkely, Jr., participated in the dedication.”

    In Holy Places

    In Holy Places (Moses 6:63), by David Gould of the Bountiful Twenty-ninth Ward, Bountiful Utah Central Stake: “All things bear witness of Christ. I can see divine manifestations in the most humble circumstances of life.”

    Show References

    • Glen M. Leonard, the director of the Museum of Church History and Art, serves as second counselor in the presidency of the Farmington Utah North Stake.