'We Could Be Heroes' exhibition at BYU's Museum of Art

Exhibit examines perpetual battle of good and evil


It could be tempting to regard "We Could Be Heroes" — the contemporary art exhibition on display at the BYU Museum of Art — as merely a playful collection of both recognizable and novel superheroes and monsters. Yes, the exhibit is fun for visitors of all ages — but its themes are also challenging and complex and will be meaningful and familiar to many LDS visitors.

By utilizing the images of heroes found in comic books (think Captain America or Spiderman) and other popular media, the exhibition examines humanity's fascination with heroes and monsters and the perpetual — and very real — battle between right and wrong.

"As a people, we are surrounded with ideas of heroes and monsters and the idea of good conquering evil," said Jeff Lambson, the exhibit's curator.

Heroes and monsters have existed throughout history and across almost all cultures. Heroes also play pivotal roles in sacred texts, including the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Faith, courage and assurance can be learned through the heroic, scriptural accounts of, say, Captain Moroni, Nephi or young David and his sling. They were people of action who took a stand against injustice and evil.

"We Could Be Heroes" includes the work of artists from the United States, Korea, Romania, Israel, Iran, Mexico and several other nations. The artists, according to the museum, explore the complexity of the hero's journey, the hero's relationship to the monster and how both are often defined by perception. It's a colorful, eye-catching display that includes a life-size Loch Ness Monster, heroic-sized athletes, portraits of Buffalo Bill Cody, other larger-than-life characters and several other images crafted from a variety of mediums including spray paint, film, plastic and PVC pipe.

Visitors to the BYU Museum of Art view stylized baseball statue at the "We Could Be Heroes" exhibit.
Visitors to the BYU Museum of Art view stylized baseball statue at the "We Could Be Heroes" exhibit. The exhibition explores the place of heroes and monsters throughout history. | Courtesy BYU-MOA

BYU's Museum of Art continues to be a popular destination for families, students, Mutual groups and others from the community. While not overtly religious, the heroes exhibition explores several themes that will be important and familiar to members of all ages — including the eternal doctrine of good's ultimate triumph over evil.

Brother Lambson challenges visitors "to come with an open mind and be ready to ask questions."

"We Could Be Heroes" also cautions viewers to be deliberate in defining both heroes and monsters. Many "heroes" found in, say, contemporary pop culture or big time sports often fall short of the label. True heroes, meanwhile, defend truth and justice through quiet action and devotion to a higher cause.

Visitors view painting at the BYU Museum of Art exhibit "We Could Be Heroes." The contemporary exhib
Visitors view painting at the BYU Museum of Art exhibit "We Could Be Heroes." The contemporary exhibition includes the work of artists from around the globe who utilize a variety of media. | Courtesy BYU-MOA

One's values — right or wrong — also define the "monsters" among us.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will host a variety of lectures and other educational activities. See for additional information. "We Could Be Heroes" will be on display in the museum's basement gallery through April 6. Free admission.

The BYU Museum of Art is located on the school's Provo, Utah, campus on North Campus Drive. Call (801) 422-8287 for additional information.

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