Most Church members don't know the name Phyllis Luch — but her art is perhaps a familiar, reoccurring element of their lives.
Think of the folksy illustration on the cover of the Family Home Evening manuals and videos. That's the late Sister Luch's work. If The Children's Songbook is resting atop a nearby piano or bookshelf, look at the cover image. Again, Sister Luch's work. Now thumb through an old copy of the Friend magazine. There's a chance you'll see one of Sister Luch's warm depictions of youngsters or, maybe, the Nativity.
The artist's work is highlighted in "Where Love Is: Art of Faith and Family by Phyllis Luch," an exhibit in a basement gallery at the Museum of Church History and Art. The display is anchored by recognizable illustrations of diverse families learning, playing and living the gospel together. Other highlights include a series of biblical paintings that illustrated Sister Luch's children's book "The Story of Ruth," along with three-dimensional pieces that found homes on the covers of LDS Institute manuals and the Friend.
A convert to the Church, Sister Luch "worked for about 40 years in Church illustration," said exhibit curator Marjorie Conder.
Phyllis Luckenback Luch was born in Allentown, Pa., in 1937. As a child, she could escape a troubled world by retreating to the attic and creating art. A natural talent, young Phyllis excelled in her high school art classes, according to the museum. She would marry a fellow artist, Warren Luch. The young couple would soon join the Church and move to Utah. There, Sister Luch received her first LDS art commission, illustrating Old Testament stories for an on-going monthly feature in the Children's Friend. She would go on to design illustrations for various Church manuals and all the Church-published magazines. The versatile artist also penned the Primary song "I Often Go Walking."
Sister Luch completed her final art commission — a Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus Christmas concert poster — shortly before cancer claimed her life in 1995, according to the museum.
"Where Love Is" is an exhibit targeted for children, so pieces and their accompanying labels are hung fairly low for easy viewing by Primary-age visitors. The exhibit, said Sister Conder, "is a wonderful introduction to art for children" and enlists Sister Luch's easy pastel pallet in its display technique.
The exhibit will remain at the museum through Nov. 28, 2004.
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