Art of Faith and Family

Familiar work of LDS graphic artist on display

Most Church members don't know the name Phyllis Luch — but her art is perhaps a familiar, reoccurring element of their lives.

Animals march into a spaceship ark in this fanciful story of Noah.
Animals march into a spaceship ark in this fanciful story of Noah. Credit: Image courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art

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.

Phyllis L. Luch
Phyllis L. Luch
Phyllis Luch loved capturing joy and awe of Savior's birth in Nativity artwork.
Phyllis Luch loved capturing joy and awe of Savior’s birth in Nativity artwork. Credit: Image courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art
This scene from the Old Testament captures the happy celebration when Ruth married Boaz. This scene and others from the Bible were created for use in a children's storybook.
This scene from the Old Testament captures the happy celebration when Ruth married Boaz. This scene and others from the Bible were created for use in a children’s storybook. Credit: Image courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art
Credit: Image courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art
This scene where Ruth and Orpha tell Naomi they want to return with her to Bethlehem was created as part of a series depicting biblical heroines.
This scene where Ruth and Orpha tell Naomi they want to return with her to Bethlehem was created as part of a series depicting biblical heroines. Credit: Image courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art
Storybook pictures recount major events in Old Testament from Adam and Eve to Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem.
Storybook pictures recount major events in Old Testament from Adam and Eve to Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem. Credit: Image courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art
FHE manual cover denotes joy of family togetherness.
FHE manual cover denotes joy of family togetherness. Credit: Image courtesy of Museum of Church History and Art

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