For some years, the staff of the Museum of Church History and Art has collected art created by members of the Church. We considered it all “Latter-day Saint art,” simply because it was created by Church members. But more recently, we have sharpened our focus. Currently, we are collecting art with a Latter-day Saint theme. Most of this work is spontaneously created by Latter-day Saint artists as they visually declare their faith to the world.
But some Latter-day Saint artists create beautiful works that do not necessarily deal with a religious theme. We try to encourage such artists to consider expressing gospel themes in their work. Sometimes that encouragement is given on an individual basis, and sometimes we invite all Latter-day Saint artists to create something within the gospel framework and enter it in the international art competition sponsored by the museum.
The works we have collected thus far demonstrate that the word art covers many forms of expression. As the gospel message reaches out to the world and the Church membership expands to include many cultures, we see that art means textiles, ceramics, paintings, drawings, pottery, jewelry, quilting, embroidery, weaving, and many other mediums.
Most art in the museum can be considered folk art, a record of our lives expressed within our own cultural framework. What is seen in these pages is a sampling of truly Latter-day Saint art. It reminds us that despite the incredible cultural diversity of the Church, we are a community of believers in the Savior. It also reminds us that it is faith, covenants, and good works that are important—not political, economic, or technological power.
“The First Vision,” a one-meter-long batik by Joni Susanto, Yojakarta, Indonesia. A third-generation batik maker, Brother Susanto created this piece for the second international art competition (1991) sponsored by the Museum of Church History and Art.
Swiss-born cabinetmaker Fredrich Dietrich made this 228-centimeter-tall armoire in 1986 in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was painted by Rosalinde Lipp and her son, Gerhart, formerly of Austria. The decoration, similar to the style typical of Upper Austria in the 1830s, depicts the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood, missionaries, the Salt Lake Temple, and baptism. Sister Lipp has returned to her homeland, where she is recognized as a leading folk artist.
Ruben Ouzonian (1894–1974) and his wife, Mary (1908–1991), began weaving this Armenian carpet in the early 1950s in Allepo, Syria, while awaiting their visas to migrate to the United States. Descendants of long lines of Armenian rug weavers, they completed the work in 1955. The 182 x 243 centimeter carpet depicts all the Presidents of the Church and the active temples up to the time it was woven.