Over the next few weeks, we will be posting stories about pieces and themes from this years Zion Art Invitational.
First and foremost, we would like to orient you to what is on show and available to view here on zionartsociety.org.
LDS art is having a birthday of sorts.
This September 12th, is the 50th anniversary of the address “A Gospel Vision of the Arts.” Given in 1967 by Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, it has become both loved and loathed by those who strive to produce religious art in the Church. Loved because President Kimball’s remarks made the ambitious claim that the then 137-year-old Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could rival the cultural contributions of any major religion — even those that had been around for thousands of years. Having a Shakespeare, Milton, Mozart, and Michelangelo of the Restoration, according to Kimball, was not only possible, but inevitable. This also created a great deal of angst among artists for setting up an almost impossible standard; the notion that each work of art should be compared to a canonical ideal (e.g. Will a temple ever house something that resembles in scale and historical importance Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling?).
Kimball’s “Gospel Vision” could not have been given even a few years earlier. Its message was the
natural consequence of a leader witnessing the beginning of a new and powerful role that the arts was beginning to play in the Church’s self-proclaimed missions “to proclaim the Gospel” and “perfect the Saints.” The relationship that the Church and its members have with visual arts can be tracked over the decades through participation in World’s Fairs, mass publication of instructional materials, the establishment of religious retail spaces, major Church construction projects, and, most recently, the advent of gallery culture.
This exhibition includes 50 works by 50 artists whose careers represent dramatic changes that have taken place in LDS art over the past 50 years. Some of these artists are widely known, with works reproduced by the millions. Some are lesser known, but have made remarkable contributions. Others are on the cusp of promising careers.