Painting the Word


Book of Mormon themes from the Church Museum’s Second International Art Competition

Painting the Word

Prophets throughout the history of the Church have encouraged members to use their talents for gospel purposes.

In 1857 President John Taylor said, “God expects Zion to become the praise and glory of the whole earth, so that kings hearing of her fame will come and gaze upon her glory.” (Sermon, 20 Sept. 1857; see Ensign, July 1977, p. 3.)

In 1977 President Spencer W. Kimball called for members “to do justice in recording in song and story and painting and sculpture the story of the Restoration.” (Ensign, July 1977, p. 5.)

President Ezra Taft Benson has encouraged members to specifically use their talents to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon. “I have a vision of artists putting into film, drama, literature, music, and paintings great themes and great characters from the Book of Mormon,” he said. (Ensign, Nov. 1988, p. 6.)

Two international art competitions have been sponsored by the Museum of Church History and Art in order to encourage Latter-day Saint artists to create art based on the gospel. The result has been a glorious cache of original artwork for the Church. Following is a small selection from the Second International Art Competition of paintings with Book of Mormon themes.

The Conversion of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah

The Conversion of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah (Alma 36:6, 24), by David Linn of the Stanford Third Ward, Los Altos California Stake: “This three-paneled painting depicts a conversion experience in the Book of Mormon. On the left, the young men are ’seeking to destroy the church of God.’ In the center panel, the angel appears to them. The panel on the right expresses the results of their conversion. This story illustrates the atonement of Christ, the justice of God, and the power, necessity, and ability of all mankind to repent.”

Limhi and His People Escape to Zarahemla

Limhi and His People Escape to Zarahemla (Mosiah 22:1, 11, 13), by Steven Lloyd Neal of the Pendleton First Ward, Walla Walla Washington Stake: “By night, Ammon led King Limhi’s people with their flocks and herds past the drunken Lamanite guards and into the wilderness. These people forsook everything to flee from wickedness and oppression. Forsaking everything, if needed, has been a mark of God’s people in all ages.”

Nephi’s Vision

Nephi’s Vision (1 Ne. 11:14–21), by Kenneth Richard Turner of the Columbus Branch, Houston Texas Stake: “I have a fascination with light. Here I have used light to surround Nephi’s vision of Mary and the Christ child. I experimented with this means of depicting light, knowing that light is a spiritual dimension that eludes capture.”

On the Fourth Day

On the Fourth Day (1 Ne. 18:12, 14), by Robert F. Fetterly of the Renton Second Ward, Renton Washington North Stake: “I based my concept for this boat on ancient petroglyphs.”

Better for One Man to Perish

Better for One Man to Perish (1 Ne. 4:13, 17–18), by Scott Snow of the Olympus Eighth Ward, Salt Lake Olympus Stake: “I wanted to depict the struggle that Nephi had in his heart about taking the life of another man, and yet being guided by the Spirit to do so. I hoped to capture that moment just after his indecision, the moment of determination, yet still the suggestion of the inner struggle he had had prior to actually drawing his sword.”

[photos] Photography by Ron Read