The reasons art is created can be as diverse as its many creators. Art can be crafted to instruct, encourage, discourage, clarify or confuse. At its best, it can inspire and testify. Art can help believers remember the great things of God.
"To have art serve that purpose is one of the highest purposes that art can possibly fulfill," said Church Historian and Recorder Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy.
Elder Jensen presided March 20 at the opening reception of the Church's 8th International Art Competition appropriately entitled "Remembering the Great Things of God." The exhibition includes nearly 200 artworks from Church members hailing from dozens of countries. The display is varied in both medium and subject — yet all the pieces work together to celebrate the many wonders of the divine.
As a self-described "non-artist," Elder Jensen said he was moved by the collective talent on display in the exhibit.
"I stand in awe of those who have contributed to this competition," he said.
Held every three years, the international competition has truly become a global art event. Almost 1,100 professional and amateur artists from 44 nations submitted entries. More than a quarter of those participants came from outside the United States. Many enlisted their own regional traditions in their respective work. Visitors to the popular exhibit will enjoy the artistic influence and flavors of Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.
Church History Museum curator Robert Davis said the international art competition began 22 years ago in an effort to produce and support inspiring works of art. Many pieces of art from past competitions have been utilized in Church magazines, publications and lesson manuals to illustrate and enrich gospel teachings and principles. Several pieces that were first seen in one of the competitions now hang in print form in temples and meetinghouses throughout the world.
"We hope the [artwork] produces happiness and joy and perhaps clarifies understanding," said Brother Davis, adding that the gospel is advanced through such shows.
Exhibition organizer Ray Halls said the Lord's hand could be traced in each step in the latest installment of the competition. A team of jurors and advisors worked together to select the artwork that was included in the exhibit. This year's theme was deliberately general, offering the artists much latitude on how they visually articulated "the great things of God."
Depictions of the Savior and the lives of LDS women are the exhibit's most common themes. Other popular subjects include episodes from the scriptures, gospel teachings, pivotal moments of Church history and children. While oil paintings are the show's most prevalent medium, an impressive collection of sculptures, ceramics, stained glass and textiles are also on display.
The exhibition, said Brother Halls, "truly testifies of God's great work among His children."
For the first time the Church's international art competition is being displayed in the Conference Center. Visitors can view the free exhibit in the Conference Center's Grand Atrium Foyer on the terrace (second) level through Oct. 11, 2009. Past exhibits have been hosted by the Church History Museum.
Twenty artists from the exhibition were honored with awards of merit. Another 18 received purchase awards. (See list on page 10.) Their selections will be added to the Church's permanent art collection. Later, three visitor choice awards will chosen by patrons of the exhibition.
Even as exhibition organizers catch their breath following the unveiling of the exhibition, work is underway for the 9th International Art Competition in 2012. Elder Jensen announced the theme for that competition will be "Make Known His Wonderful Works." Entry information will be posted on the Church History Museum Web site later this year.
Several participants in the 8th International Art Competition received special awards for their entries. Purchase Award recipients will have their artwork become part of the Church History Museum's permanent collection.
Adam Abram, USA, "Gethsemane," oil painting
Ruben Alfredo Cabrera, Uruguay, "Together Forever," carved wood
Jamie Davis, USA, "Schimmelbusch Family Quilt," quilted fabric
Jacob Elton Dobson, USA, "Articles of Faith 2 and 3," plaster and bronze sculpture
Tracy Ann Holmes, USA, "The Three Gardens," cast porcelain
Irene Monson Jenkins, USA, "Heirloom Blessing Dress," sewn fabric
Lurain Lyman, USA, "Garden Tomb," stained glass
Donna Moyer, USA, "Consider the Lilies," pieced, appliqued, quilted fabric
Nnamdi Okonkwo, Nigeria, "Love," cast bronze
Kathleen Peterson, USA, "The Child," oil painting
Walter Rane, USA, "Blessed Are They Who Are Faithful and Endure," oil on board
Kirk J. Richards, USA, "The Greatest in the Kingdom," oil on canvas
Todd Stilson, USA, "Salvador Mundi," oil on wood panel
Leroy Transfield, New Zealand, "Joseph and the Boy Jesus," terracotta sculpture
Lesa Udall, USA, "Whenever I Hear the Song of Bird," oil on linen
Rebecca Wagstaff, USA, "Passageway," oil on canvas
William Whitaker, USA, "Seven Generations: Rachel Wears Black," oil on panel
Sherri Williams, USA, "Behold Your Little Ones," polymer clay
Blanche Wilson, USA, "I Remember," woodblock print
Janis Wunderlich, USA, "Family Frenzy," built ceramic, multi-fired, glazed
Jubal Aviles Saenz, Mexico, "We Will See Each Other Again on the Other Side," oil on wood
Cassandra Barney, USA, "Atonement," oil on panel
Chin Tai Cheng, Taiwan, "Many People Shall Go," ink on paper
Rose Datoc Dall, USA, "Flight," oil on canvas
Ramon Ely Garcia Rivas, Ecuador, "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go," acrylic and latex on canvas
Filiberto Gutierrez, USA, "Come Unto Jesus," clay, wood, feathers, paint
Michael Malm, USA, "Saving That Which Was Lost," oil painting
Erendira de Martinez Hernandez, Mexico, "With No Exception of Persons," oil on wood
Emily McPhie, USA, "Windows of Heaven," oil on panel
Valentina Museeyenko, Ukraine, "As Sisters in Zion," gel pen graphic on paper
Louise Parker, South Africa, "Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman? II," pigment on paper
Emmalee Rose Glauser Powell, USA, "Joseph William Billy Johnson: Holiness to the Lord," oil painting
Claudio Roberto Ramires, Brazil, "The Spirit of Prayer," acrylic on canvas
Gaylynn Lorene Ribeira, USA, "Bring Up Your Children in Light and Truth," oil on canvas
Asi Meng Tsai, Taiwan, "Teach Me to Walk in the Light," ink on paper
Josephus Van Gemert, Netherlands, "I Am the Alpha and the Omega," screen print on embossed paper
Colleen Wallace, Australia, "Coming of Christ," acrylic on canvas
Elspeth Young, USA, "For Such a Time As This," oil on panel