In 1845, when the first Latter-day Saint pioneers began their 2,000-kilometer trek across the Great Plains to the Salt Lake Valley, they were following the vision of Church leaders who, as early as 1834, looked to the Rocky Mountains as a haven for the Saints.
The arduous journey behind them, the Saints faced further hardships and heartbreak as they settled the Salt Lake Valley and some 700 other communities in the West.
The faith, courage, and tenacity of the pioneers has often been a theme of Latter-day Saint artists. The art featured here is a sampling of some of’the most recent of these tributes. These selections were part of an exhibit titled “The Image of the West” at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, Utah. All works are in the Museum’s permanent collection, unless otherwise noted. Photography is by Ron Read.
[illustration] Above: July 24, 1847—Emigration Canyon, by VaLoy Eaton, 1986. Now the route of a major highway, the canyon was the first pioneers’ access into the Salt Lake Valley 150 years ago.
[photo] Left: Push Along, by Gary Price, 1986; bronze. The pioneer trek was a heroic test of a family’s energy, faith, commitment, and cooperation.
[illustration] Left: “Shall We Not Go On in So Great a Cause?” by Clark Kelley Price, 1990. The early pioneers followed the vision of their martyred prophet Joseph Smith, who foresaw that the Saints would settle in the Rocky Mountains.
[illustration] Left, below: Sunflowers and Buffalo Chips, by Gary Kapp, 1987. Because wood was scarce on the Great Plains, women and children gathered hardened buffalo droppings to use as fuel for cooking fires.
[illustration] Right, above: Water Boy III, by Bill L. Hill, 1988; loaned by Marlys Larsen. Like their pioneer forebears, many modern-day Saints work hard making a living from the land. The artist recalls taking water to his father working in the fields.
[photo] Right: Jacob Hamblin, by L’Deane Trueblood, 1975; bronze. Often called an “apostle to the Lamanites,” Jacob Hamblin (1819–1886) was a Latter-day Saint peacemaker and missionary to the American Indians. He is depicted here with his adopted Native American son.