“True Religion and Great Art”: Some Additional Notes


A stained glass representation of Joseph Smith’s first vision, created by an unknown artist precisely a century ago, in 1913, and now located in the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City.


I’ve been quite pleased at the comments following my “True Religion and Great Art” post from a few days back.  Usually, I get only a few comments.  Sometimes I get long strings of them, but from argumentative (and often unreasonable) people, and I don’t enjoy that experience much.


The comments in the wake of the “art and religion” post, though, have been helpful.  And, from them, I’ve learned about (or learned more about) some artists and some discussions of the topic that I would like to recommend:


Here, for instance, is a site dedicated to “The Art of Thomas Wheeler,” where there are some really fine things.  And Brother Wheeler runs a website devoted to LDS artists, here.  He also calls my attention to the site of Jeff Hein.


Robert Hall has an interesting essay on “What Does a Latter-day Saint Renaissance Look Like?” though he tells me that he’s changed his thinking a bit on the topic since he wrote that essay in 2009.  He’s now writing over at https://medium.com,  Here’s his opening entry there:  https://medium.com/thoughts-on-creativity/6ab0aaad0f37.


In the comments, two of us mention Lisa DeLong, a Latter-day Saint artist and art historian affiliated with The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London, where she received her doctorate.  This is her website.


Two important statements on this matter from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are these, from President Spencer W. Kimball and then-Elder Boyd K. Packer.


Finally, not to forget the musical arts, I’ve just now  made a small contribution to KBYU-FM – partly out of delight that I’m pretty nearly done with preparing my remarks for tomorrow night’s Summerhays Lecture, and partly out of happiness that my wife will soon be home to save me from myself.  (I suppose it could be considered a thank-offering.)  I say this not to boast, but to illustrate the fact that I’m really serious about trying, albeit in my insignificant way, to encourage and further the arts in Mormondom.  KBYU-FM is a remarkable asset here along the Wasatch Front.  Many much larger metropolitan areas have nothing to compare with it.  It’s a treasure, and it merits support.



"Is this the worst academic journal ever?"
New Testament 197
Catholics and Mormons in Utah: An interesting though sometimes inaccurate article about their cooperative, competitive relationship
Hebrew inscriptions? How early?
  • Doug Ealy

    This is a great post. I enjoyed reading Robert Hall’s post. It seems to me that there is a great disparity between the number of great LDS business leaders (large group) and the number of great LDS artists (small group). At some point in time in our history, church culture began emphasizing business studies over other considerations. I don’t know when or why (although I suspect money was involved at some point).

    I know that Bro. Nibley was very outspoken on this subject.

    • DanielPeterson

      I think that there always need to be more “businessmen” than artists (I include under “businessmen” farmers and factory workers and bankers and accountants and all other producers of goods and services), in order to create the economic surplus that supports art and artists.

      That said, though, I understand your point, and am sympathetic to it.

      • http://www.americanyak.com/ American Yak

        Dan: this is one area my thinking has evolved just a bit. (Summarized: it’s important for business people to fund/support the arts.) thanks for posting! I’m in a position to need to do a lot more publishing. Randy Astle, in NY, is also working on a comprehensive book on Moromons and cinema.

  • Ben Tanner

    You should check out Javen Tanner’s poetry – Amazing stuff! http://fireinthepasture.org/2011/tanner-curses-for-your-sake/

  • Ben Tanner
  • wheelercreek

    Wow, thanks for mentioning me! Much appreciated! I also might mention Gregory Mortenson – http://www.gregorymortenson.com/ – I don’t know him, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s LDS.. he’s quite well thought of among the realist art crowd. He’s from Utah anyway.. and studied with William Whitaker (the portrait artist who painted President Hinckley and others)..

  • CWDay

    Snarky comments about Saturday’s Warrior make me concerned that I may not be qualified to contribute here. In my view, creativity and talent were combined to reach a large group of people; even perhaps touching them in some uplifting way. Is that not a form of artistic expression? Maybe not great art, but who’s to say?

    But I digress. On the subject of LDS artist recognition, the fact that the Stained Glass window at the beginning of this article was credited to “unknown artist” may offer a clue. Why is the artist unknown? Under what circumstances was this window created where the person creating it was not noted?

    As for LDS artists who have created significant works for both LDS and non-LDS; I remind all of Avard Fairbanks and Arnold Friberg.

    And if using talent and creativity to further the gospel in subtle ways is of interest, I offer the following example.