Celebrating Faith: Annual Exhibition Showcases Religious Art | News, Sports, Jobs

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“Chanting the Holy Book” is an artwork by Fahimeh Amiri that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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Vance Mellen, Trenton Mellen and Barbara Mellen, left to right, view works on display as part of the Springville Museum of Art’s annual Utah Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition at the museum on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“A Blessed Curse” is an artwork by Michael Soelberg that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“His Hand is Outstretched Even Still” is an artwork by Shelly C. Coleman that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“Tiwanaku” is an artwork by Kristena Eden that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“World of Paradox,” far right, is an artwork by R. Lanier “Lanny” Britsch that is on display at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Springville’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. ‘Utah. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“Vision” is an artwork by Jennifer Dianne Gubler that is on display at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“Angels Among Us” is an artwork by Jack Morford that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“A Gift Upon the Altar” is an artwork by Christopher Lee Adams that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“The Couch” is an artwork by Michelle Nixon that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Photographed Tuesday November 20, 2012. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh

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“How Many Times Would I Have Been Gathered” is an artwork by Jeff Hein that is displayed at the Springville Museum of Art as part of Utah’s annual Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition. Pictured Tuesday November 20, 2012. ‘How Many Times Would I Have Been Reunited’ won the director’s award at the exhibition. JAMES ROH/Daily Herald

James Roh


Everyone has a few surprises in life. Jeff Hein had a big one last week when he got a call from the staff at the Springville Museum of Art. “They called me and told me I won,” Hein said. “I said, ‘Won what?’ “

Hein, a painter who lives in Salt Lake City, won the director’s award for the museum’s 27th annual Utah Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibit, which kicked off last week with a special reception for artists. “I didn’t even get into the show,” Hein said. Or at least not that he knew.

Hein’s painting, “How Many Times Would I Gather Thee Together,” is a depiction of Jesus Christ that specifically references a passage from the Book of Mormon, a volume of sacred scripture for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Hein, 38, said he didn’t even have the spiritual and religious art exhibit in mind when he created it.

“To be completely honest,” he said, “it was a painting that was meant for a temple and was rejected.”

Hein painted “How Many Times Would I Gather You” commissioned by the LDS Church for the newly renovated Boise Idaho Temple. The temple committee, he said, didn’t tell him what to paint and apparently didn’t like what he came up with.

“I ended up selling it privately,” Hein said.

The painting’s owner, on the other hand, and the museum found something powerful in Hein’s work. Rita Wright, who took over as director of the museum in October (following the August retirement of longtime director Vern Swanson), said Hein’s painting gives an “exquisite” interpretation of a familiar subject.

“He added depth and connection,” Wright said. “He is a very caring, compassionate and shrewd Jesus.”

It is also one of the many expressions of faith waiting to be discovered in the museum. The popular annual exhibition attracted 318 submissions, and 168 of these works are now on display.

Know your religion – or someone else’s

Many of the paintings and other works in the exhibit have a Latter-day Saint character, either implicitly or explicitly. The Utah Spiritual and Religious Art exhibit, however, is open to works from all religious traditions, and Wright said the exhibit featured great diversity. One artist submitted a striking photograph of a Buddha, while another artist won a prize for depicting an ancient Egyptian scribe.

“We have one that has kind of an altar of stones on the floor,” Wright said. “Then there is a very contemporary lamp hanging above that illuminates the rocks.”

The common thread running through all the pieces in the exhibition is that they reflect the artist’s attempt to convey something spiritual. In some cases, it’s not even necessarily something that reflects the artist’s personal beliefs. Cathy Erdmann, Springville artist, sculptor and sometimes painter, has a painting in the show titled “First Holy Communion”.

The painting depicts a young girl receiving her first Roman Catholic communion, taking wine and a host from her priest. Erdmann, a Latter-day Saint, painted it to order. “This particular commission came from a client,” she said. The painting depicts the client’s mother at Mother’s First Holy Communion.

For Erdmann, 55, the painting resonates as spiritually as if she had painted something from her own religious experience. “It’s actually interesting how many religions kind of parallel each other,” she said, comparing communion to her own Mormon experience of taking bread and water as a sacrament every day. week.

For some of the artists in the exhibition, faith affects everything they do for art. Orem resident Weston Lamplugh, 31, whose painting “Tree of Life” references a prophetic vision in the opening chapters of the Book of Mormon, said all of his art expresses something he finds meaningful.

“I’ve always loved art,” said Lamplugh, who was just 12 when he set his sights on an artistic career. Even with this passion, however, he says, he cannot dedicate himself to something without a deeper meaning: “I have to paint something that I really believe in.”

Faith drives art

In this sense, many artists bring at least a degree of spiritual fervor to whatever they work on. “Even what many people perceive as my secular work has spiritual undertones,” Hein said. For Hein, a Latter-day Saint, this foundation may not be overtly or even passively Christian, but it reflects some of his moral landmarks.

As Erdmann says, “I view all art as creation. I think you can find something spiritual in almost any form of creative art. I believe you could look at something even very geometric or abstract” and find a spiritual resonance in it.

Lamplugh, who earned a master’s degree in architecture to go along with his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and associate’s degree in art, said he often reflects on how spirituality influences architecture. “It’s being able to create spaces that inspire you, or allow for a positive feeling,” he said. “Or in the way you use light.”

Art reflects who an artist is, in the spirit of Lamplugh, and faith is a big part of who many people are. “Your experience, your belief, is always in the background” of what you create, he said.

The Spiritual and Religious Art Exhibition takes place in late November and December each year, and Wright said it’s an ideal time of year for it. “I personally feel that regardless of your spiritual or religious tradition, this is a time of year associated with heightened spirituality,” she said.

Whether it’s Thanksgiving’s emphasis on acknowledging blessings or Christ-centered Christmas reflection, the holiday season puts people in a spiritually pensive frame of mind. For Wright, this makes the experience of interacting with museum visitors all the more meaningful.

“I have a strong background in education and love talking to people about what they see,” she said. “I strongly believe there is a sense of spirituality at this time of year that helps people open up and talk about their own beliefs.”

27th Annual Utah Spiritual & Religious Art Exhibition

When: Now until January 18

Or: Springville Art Museum, 126 S. 400 East, Springville

Visiting hours: from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday; extended hours until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays; closed on Mondays

Cost: To free

Information: (801) 489-2727, smofa.org