“They Without Us Will Sit in Darkness”
Age 16, Utah
Acrylic on wood
A conference address inspired 16-year-old Chris McConkie to create his painting entitled “They Without Us Will Sit in Darkness.” It also inspired him to learn more about how family history can bless his life.
“Elder David A. Bednar spoke about our duty, especially as youth, to do family history work,” says Chris. “Elder Bednar taught that doing family history work is one of the greatest responsibilities that God has given us.”
“I used young men and women that are looking for roots as the figures in the piece in the hope that other youth who see my artwork will be able to see themselves in place of one of the youth in the picture and feel compelled to do their genealogy.”
Read, watch, or listen to Elder Bednar’s talk, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn.”
Chris’s acrylic painting is a graphic depiction of youth who are fulfilling their duty to participate in family history. “I used young men and women that are looking for roots as the figures in the piece in the hope that other youth who see my artwork will be able to see themselves in place of one of the youth in the picture and feel compelled to do their genealogy,” Chris explains.
Typically a tree is about the same size above ground as it is beneath. But Chris says the tree in his painting is smaller than the root structure “because most of the members in a family line are those who have already passed on.” Chris points out that family members who have gone before “become part of the roots and strength of a family. The roots that are fading in and out of the black background represent missing family history data, and the youth in the picture are searching for their hidden roots.”
Chris recently found out that he has missing data in his own family tree. “I previously believed that all my family history work had been done,” he says, “but upon closer examination, I found that multiple lines only go back several generations and that’s as far as the work has gone. I have always loved going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead, and indexing names that can be used to further other people’s family history work. When I do so, I can feel the Spirit of Elijah that Elder Bednar spoke about. It’s a great feeling. Along with peace and comfort comes a sense of encouragement and motivation to do more.”
“Feeling that Spirit of Elijah can change your perspective on family history,” Chris says. “It takes the letters and words you see and transforms them from names into people that once lived on earth, who each have their own story. After learning that I still had lots of family history where the names have not been found, I feel a new energy and desire to search out the names of my ancestors so that I can help them get their temple work done.”