Exhibit captures 'breadth of Savior's mission in our lives'

Taking in The Living Christ exhibit at the Museum of Church History and Art is a little like walking into a testimony meeting, says curator Richard Oman.

Walter Rane's oil "In Remembrance of Me" is one of many pieces from The Living Christ exhibit that depicts a scene from the Savior's mortal ministry.
Walter Rane's oil "In Remembrance of Me" is one of many pieces from The Living Christ exhibit that depicts a scene from the Savior's mortal ministry. Photo: Courtesy LDS Church

While people typically express their faith in Christ's ministry through words, the art in the exhibit allows others to testify visually.

"It is about [speaking] to the eyes, as well as the ears," Brother Oman said.

The Living Christ exhibit was prompted by a document of the same name that was issued earlier this year by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. The statement reminds all who read it that Christ is the center of the Church and the focus of its members.

"This exhibit attempts to capture, through art, the breadth of the Savior's mission in our lives," said museum director Glen Leonard.

The more than 30 pieces that make up the exhibit are not displayed in chronological order. Instead, each piece stands alone as an independent portrayal of Christ's mission in bringing salvation to the world. Many are from the Museum's permanent collection, others have been borrowed or commissioned.

Subject matters range from moments in the Savior's mortal ministry to His appearance with the Father to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. The exhibit is also multi-media, with artwork ranging from traditional oil paintings to representations of the Savior in textile and woodwork. Also included is Walter Rane's dramatic oil "Jehovah Creates the Earth," a piece on the pre-existence depicting Christ's omnipotent role as Creator.

Some of the artwork, like paintings from Greg Olsen or Minerva Teichert, will be familiar to most LDS visitors. The works of more obscure artists are also displayed. Curators hope the exhibit demonstrates the diverse cultures and artistic styles that are found throughout the Church.

The exhibit, like the Church, encompasses a broad range of people who share unified testimonies of Christ in unique ways aesthetically and stylistically, Brother Leonard said. While many of the artists featured in the exhibit are from the United States, others hail from Germany, the Philippines, Indonesia, Croatia and Ukraine.

The Living Christ statement is displayed prominently throughout the display and copies are available to visitors, Brother Oman said. Typically, some form of text or narrative is included in the identification labels that are hung near each piece of art. But for this exhibit, curators opted to use passages from the scriptures to demonstrate Christ's role in lives of people today.

The exhibit, which is located in one of the museum's upstairs galleries, is expected to run until Sept. 3, 2001. Admission is free and the galleries are open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The museum is located at 45 N. West Temple (west of Temple Square) in Salt Lake City.

Additional information on The Living Christ and other exhibits is available at 801-240-3310. Group tours may be scheduled at 801-240-4615.

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