Poster visually tells story of pioneers

One of the challenges facing the Church's Sesquicentennial Committee was to artistically capture on canvas the width and breadth of the pioneer migration.

"The scope of the pioneer saga is as rich, and as colorful and as dramatic as the individual lives of the thousands who crossed the plains," said Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and chairman of the sesquicentennial committee."We wanted something commemorative that members could hang on their walls to remind them of the faith and courage and resilience of the pioneers," he continued.

Larry Winborg of the Hyde Park 4th Ward, Hyde Park Utah Stake, an artist recognized for his skills and his knowledge of the pioneers, was selected by the committee to create a painting to be reproduced as a poster detailing the pioneer story.

The poster, which is available for purchase, is a montage of images that highlight the varied aspects of life on the pioneer trail. One image conveys a good day when travel was easy and the sun temperate; while another image re-creates the cold and hunger of the ill-fated handcart companies as they trudge through snow.

Still, another image shows the solemnity of a grandfather with two grandchildren praying over a grave; while a contrasting image remembers the revelry of singing and dancing during the evenings around the campfire.

"We owe it to the pioneers to honor them with our very best effort," said Brother Winborg, explaining his hopes that the painting reflects the faith and courage of the lives of the pioneers.

Many journals were researched and many paintings were studied to give historical authenticity to the clothing and wagons.

"I've been asked why the man in the handcart image is wearing a top hat," Brother Winborg said. "At first, it seems out of character. But journals refer to the poverty of these members, and how many were from England. They would wear whatever they had."

The strength of the painting, however, is "focused on feelings," explained Brother Winborg. Each pictorial image is a study of emotion, from the sad to the exultant; from the monotonous to the life and death struggles.

Before putting a brush to the canvas, even before putting a pencil to the early sketches, Brother Winborg worked to tap into that same spirit that fired the faith of the pioneers.

"I studied the teachings of the General Authorities, as well as the journals of the pioneers, which included the journal of my wife's ancestor, Patience Loder Rozsa, who kept a detailed journal of the Martin Handcart Company," he said.

"I felt a closeness to the pioneers while doing this painting. I knew from the moment I was asked to do it that this would be the most significant painting I've ever done.

"The more we learn about the pioneers, the easier it is for us to keep the faith and lead better lives," Brother Winborg said.

The posters are available in two sizes: 16x20 for $4; and, 24x30 for $5. They can be purchased at Church Distribution Centers, the BYU Bookstore, Deseret Book and other stores where LDS books are sold.

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