Art exhibit draws from LDS talents throughout world

Laboring nine months with a piece of okhuen wood-- the most valued hard wood in the old African kingdom of Benin -- Bishop Lawrence Enigiator of the Oliha (Nigeria) Ward, carved a representation of the family, "the central unit in the Church."

On the other side of the world, in Alta Loma, Calif., Laurie Schnoebelen used the media of paint, wood and sand to represent Abraham's hands holding sands, symbolizing the promise that his seed would be as numerous as the sand of the sea.The two works are among entries in the Third International Art Competition sponsored by the Museum of Church History and Art. They exemplify the wide variety of art forms, cultures and traditions in which Latter-day Saints express their faith and commitment to the gospel.

An exhibition of nearly 200 works of art, selected from more than 500 entries from professional and amateur artists, opened March 26. Finalists represent 26 nations and 18 states of the United States.

At a program in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square March 25, Merit Awards and Purchase Awards were bestowed upon the finalists by Elder Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy. He is executive director of the Church Historical Department.

The Silver Foundation contributed cash for the Award of Merit prizes, and funds for the Purchase Awards include a donation by the Alan C. Ashton Trust. Purchases become part of the museum's permanent collection.

"The Church is in a rare position to sponsor a competition which is truly worldwide in scope," commented Marjorie D. Conder, curator for the international competition. "Few other organizations have in place resources to both inform and facilitate participation in an international exhibit from a full cross section of its population. It would be impossible for us without the Church network. There's no other way to get the word out."

The result was a flood of entries that spread the good news of the gospel with a diversity of cultural flavors.

For example, a textile by Abu Hassan Conteh of Freetown, Sierra Leone, shows Latter-day Saints in West Africa living the principles of self-reliance as taught by the Church. All of the activities depicted are in preparation for the rainy season.

Using a cultural art form to express reverence for the gospel, Blanca E. Pavon de Valdez of Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, fashioned an image of the Salt Lake Temple out of broom straw and compeche wax. Using those ancient craft materials and technique, the artist expresses the theme of eternal salvation so important to Latter-day Saints globally.

In addition to the prizes already awarded (see box on this page), three Visitors' Choice awards will be selected during the time the exhibit is open. Visitors will be invited to cast ballots for their favorite works of art.

Judging was done by two juries of three members each. One jury was comprised of Robert Davis and Richard Oman, art curators on the museum staff, and Michael Kawasak of the Church Graphics Division. Members of the other jury were Sister Conder, Steven Epperson of the BYU History Department and Carol Edison of the Utah Folk Arts Council.

The museum, at 45 N. West Temple, is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed