From Earth to Art

Crafts and Ceramics from the 2nd International Art Competition Sponsored by the Museum of Church History and Art

The earth—rich in natural resources such as clay, wood, stone, and ore—has always provided the materials for mankind’s practical needs and artistic expression.

And so it is today. Many artists still choose earth’s natural resources as their media. But with the far more sophisticated tools and methods available, artisans have raised the skills of pottery, metalworking, woodworking, and other crafts to the level of fine art. Not only can today’s exquisitely glazed pots, polished metalwork, and intricate wood carvings reflect fine craftsmanship, but they can also tell of scripturally based ideas and events.

The following crafts and ceramics were created by Latter-day Saint artists as interpretations of scriptural ideas or stories. These works were part of the Second International Art Competition, “Themes from the Scriptures,” sponsored by the Museum of Church History and Art. More than eight hundred Latter-day Saint artists in forty-two nations submitted paintings, sculptures, textiles, crafts, and ceramics. From these entries, a number were selected to receive awards of distinction, awards of merit, and purchase awards.

Several of the following crafts and ceramics are winners of these awards, and they serve as reminders that we have the opportunity to take simple elements from the earth and turn them into art.

Lehi and the Liahona

Lehi and the Liahona, by Maria Alejandra Gil of San Luis, Argentina, laminated copper and engraved metal with high and low relief, 1990. (1 Ne. 16:10.)

Book of Genesis: Chapter One

Book of Genesis: Chapter One, by C. Dean Draper of Fresno, California, ceramic, 1985. (Gen. 1:1.) This piece won an award of distinction. Sections depict the creative periods, with images of Adam and Eve on the sphere at the top.


Prodigal, by Doug Soelberg of Provo, Utah, leaded glass, fired paint, etching, 1989. (Luke 15:20, 24.) This piece won an award of merit. The “prodigal” may be any of us as we struggle with sin and pain. The gospel and God’s love (represented by the blue background and yellow triangle) are constants in spite of all. If we are willing to turn to God and live, he is ever ready to receive us.

From Joseph to Brigham

From Joseph to Brigham, by Maynard M. Sorensen of Salt Lake City, Utah, wood sculpture, 1988. (Ps. 50:5.) This folk art ox-yoke was created and carved in Nauvoo, Illinois, during the artist’s mission in 1988.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper, by the Pottery Group of Bremen, Germany, porcelain, earthenware clay, 1990. (Matt. 26:20, 26.) This piece won an award of merit. The sculptors drew inspiration for their work from medieval examples found in northern Europe. Collaborators on the piece included Sisters G. Gesell, B. Hoerstel, S. Nowak, I. Selvarajah, I. Reimer, and R. Troche.

The Descendance

The Descendance, by Frances Leigh-Kendall of Rogers, Arkansas, woodcarving, 1990. (Mark 15:46.) Myrtle wood, from which this piece was carved, is four times harder than oak and will hold finer detail. Notches around the border represent the 102 hours it took to complete this piece.

He Was Asleep

Above: He Was Asleep, by Clark Gardner of Salt Lake City, Utah, glazed tile, 1990. (Matt. 8:23–26.) This piece won a purchase award.

Noah’s Ark, the Great Flood

Noah’s Ark, the Great Flood, by Matthew Hyrum Dell of Melbourne, Australia, stained glass window, 1990. (Gen. 9:9, 12–13.) This piece won a purchase award. When no light comes through the glass, it becomes dull and dark. We too need the light of Christ coming through us to make us bright; otherwise we also become dull and dark.

Whirligig: Jaredites at Sea

Whirligig: Jaredites at Sea, by Stanley Green of Centerville, Utah, rosewood, zebrawood, curly maple, and black walnut, 1990. (Ether 2:17, 24.) This piece won an award of merit. The rosewood whale symbolizes the hazards of the ocean voyage. The boat indicates the Jaredites’ mode of travel. The grain of the curly maple sides represents the ocean waves and currents. The eight blades indicate the number of boats in the Jaredite group.

[photo] Right: In the Beginning, by Kathleen Harwood Jones of Salt Lake City, Utah, porcelain, 1990. (Gen. 1:1.)