“Church Displays Selections from Eighth International Art Competition,” Ensign, June 2009, 78–79
The Church History Museum’s Eighth International Art Competition exhibit opened to the public in the Conference Center on March 23, 2009, and will run through October 11, 2009. The theme for the competition is “Remembering the Great Things of God.”
This year’s competition drew nearly 1,100 entries from both professional and amateur member artists. A jury evaluated the entries and selected 266 for display. Robert Davis, senior exhibit developer for the museum, said one third of the selected pieces came from outside of the United States; they represent 44 countries.
Jurors looked for new artwork centered on gospel themes and representing worldwide cultural and aesthetic traditions, styles, and media. Some of the media represented in the competition include painting, drawing, sculpting, needlework, and woodcarving.
One of the three-dimensional pieces in the exhibit is a bronze cast statue of two horses harnessed together in a field, where a bishop left them when he felt inspired to check on an elderly member in his ward. Another entry, from Syria, is an Armenian lace starburst. The lace represents the great things of the Lord the artist learned from her mother, who also taught her the lace-making art. A member from Uruguay entered a carved wood image representing temple marriage and the sealing power. A Hungarian member contributed a painting of a woman reading to her child from the Bible. The description that came with the painting was part of a song from the Children’s Songbook.
Brother Davis said that even though the artwork came in many forms, it all had the common subject matter of the gospel.
In the painting The Spirit of Prayer, which received a purchase award, Claudio Roberto Aguiar Ramires, from Brazil, painted three images of Nephi kneeling to pray. The first image shows Nephi kneeling to pray for help as he was building the ship. The second image depicts him tied to the ship during the storm as he struggled to kneel and pray. The third image portrays him praying after arriving at the promised land.
“[Nephi] was always thankful to the Lord and recognized His hand in his life,” Brother Ramires said, explaining why he had painted each of the images.
Adam Abram, from Utah, USA, who received a merit award for his painting, Gethsemane, said about his artwork, “This isn’t a painting about suffering, it’s a painting about getting through the suffering.” He said his hope for the painting is that people will look at their own struggles and trials in life and know that with the Savior’s help they can prevail.
The museum offered 18 Purchase Awards to add the pieces to its collection. The jury awarded 20 Merit Awards at a reception on Friday, March 20. Another three pieces will receive Visitors’ Choice Awards near the closing of the exhibit.
The Church has held the worldwide art competition every three years since 1987. The museum initially created the competition to increase its art collection.
“I’ve been associated with all of the shows, and it’s been very satisfying,” Brother Davis said. “It’s a good thing. I can think of nothing in the world that quite approaches this.”
In the past, the exhibit has been shown in the Church History Museum. However, with the growing response to the art competition, the exhibit moved to the Conference Center this year to allow it more room. The artwork will be displayed during both the April and October general conferences.
The exhibit is in the Grand Atrium Foyer of the Conference Center, 60 West North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah. Visitors may enter at door 15. Exhibit hours are Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
“It’s satisfying to see the way people express themselves,” Brother Davis said. “Art is a personal thing, and I think it draws from the divine. People have a uniqueness that comes out in their art, but they also serve as a witness of the gospel in many different ways.”
The Liahona and Ensign often feature many of the submissions. Selections from this year’s exhibit as well as past exhibits are also available on the Church History Web site at www.lds.org/churchhistory/museum/competition.