The 12th International Art Competition of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints features art from 148 Latter-day Saint creators from around the world. This year’s competition theme explores the gospel message that “all are alike unto God,” as taught in 2 Nephi 26:33. The rich collection of artwork incorporates expressions of inclusion, diversity, community, and the redeeming love of the Savior for all humanity.
Here are just a few of those 148 Latter-day Saint artists and their work featured in the exhibition.
(The descriptions below are taken from the museum’s website, and you can click each artwork title to see it featured on the site.)
Using 650 of the most common names in each country of the world, Keller explores Isaiah’s messianic saying, “Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). The work reminds the viewer of the personal nature of the Savior’s Atonement. Christ’s sacrifice, though infinite and eternal in its scope, is also for “even the most common of us all.”
Speaking of the large 16-inch hands he sculpted for the competition, Keller told LDS Living, “I had looked at many different ways of going about including names on the hands. I was going to do one hand with my family history and the other hand with my wife's family history. I had looked at doing people that I have known throughout my life.”
“Ultimately, I wanted the hands to be about inclusion and equality among the children of God. I looked up names around the world that were the most common in each country. I wanted to show that even though you may have the same name as 1,000 other people or even one million other people, you matter to our Father in Heaven as if you were the only one. I wanted to show that Heavenly Father cares about every one of us individually, no matter how common we feel.”
In Cocco’s painting, Christ stares directly at each viewer, challenging them to see His image in their own countenance. The Lord called Himself “I am,” but He challenges humanity to be even as He is, or "I am." Members of His Church witness they are willing to take His name upon them at baptism and renew that covenant by taking the sacrament—they renew their commitment to be called after His name.
In a 2020 interview, Cocco told LDS Living, “My major inspiration comes from the scriptures. The scriptures that make a stronger impact in my life are the ones that I can better visualize and then paint. There are other elements that help me disconnect from the day-to-day activities, like music, which also becomes a source of inspiration.”
Food has always been a central part of Latter-day Saint efforts to meet together and unite as a community. Using recipes from ward cookbooks, George creates Jell-O salads, a food historically served at ward activities in the Intermountain West. The red, yellow, and blue salads remind the viewer that combinations of these primary colors can produce the complete spectrum of color.
George’s food art seeks to prompt conversations about a niche part of the Church’s social culture while highlighting the visually interesting aspects of the food. He told LDS Living that as a Latter-day Saint, his faith informs his creative practice.
“I feel like the way I see and approach subject matter comes from a place of empathy, or at least a desire to understand,” he noted. “I often lean into humor because that’s how my mind works. I feel like everyone has a divinely appointed creative impulse. I’m trying to run with mine.”
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Patterning glass-beaded mandalas in a circle, Krishna illustrates the journey humanity undergoes to become more like God. Individual mandalas are unique; as each colored line of mandalas progresses toward the center, it becomes more focused, representing weaknesses sloughed off as individuals grow toward divinity.
On an episode of the All In podcast, artist McArthur Krishna told host Morgan Jones, “Every single talent can be used for good. I mean, I think that’s the power of divinity, right? It's not just like a silver lining. It's like the most divine, sparkly, shiny lining. It's not just a lining, it is the thing. It's like its core essence.
“Every core essence is shiny and sparkly divine. So if you can be Porter Rockwell, a gunslinger who puts the fear of Jehovah into the hearts of people and he can have his talents used for Joseph Smith, then being an outspoken woman also absolutely has its place and talent.
“And the story with Lucy Mack Smith, where she said, ‘If we put our faith together and we remember, God can answer our prayers this very moment,’ and there was a thunderous crack and the ice split, and they were the only ship that got through.”
Struck by scripture reminding readers that “his hand is stretched out still” (Isaiah 9:12), Paige felt impressed by the Savior’s desire that humanity develop a relationship with Him. Choosing to focus on the hand and cropping the image short of the face requires the viewer to accept the invitation, complete the work necessary to know the Savior, and finish the portrait.
Paige shared the following on Instagram about another one of her pieces, Coming Full Circle: “It was about that moment when your prayers were answered and the pathway cleared and you could see the purpose behind everything. I hope that when you see it, you think about all the circles in your life, the times when you have seen God’s hand and you’re full of gratitude for his tender mercies in your life.” Coming Full Circle was also shared on the Church’s Instagram page in 2020.
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Using details drawn from historical research—the complexion and hairstyles of Roman Judea, the clothing recorded in early Christian mosaics, and the setting of natural Nazarene winepresses looked over by vineyard watchtowers—the artist portrays Jesus as a tektōn, or a craftsman builder. The winepress symbolizes Christ’s Atonement, the event that makes Christ the Chief Cornerstone, which is held in the Savior’s hand.
In 2020, BYU religion professor and artist Anthony Sweat talked to LDS Living about his experiences painting. When asked about where he finds ideas for both his writing and his art, he said, “I look for gaps. Whether in my writing or in my art, I ask myself what holes need to be filled that I am passionate about and may have something useful to say about that hasn’t been said? That drives my creative expressions in word and in paint.”
All of the artwork from the competition will be on display at the Church History Museum from March 17, 2022 through April 1, 2023, and on the Church’s online gallery. Through the online gallery, you can also select your two favorite pieces and cast your vote for the Visitors’ Choice Award. Artist McArthur Krishna also shared a short, partial walkthrough in the Church History Museum gallery on Instagram, and you can watch it in the player below.