See the Prophet drawn as a comic book character, sculpted in Oreo cream, and captured in an antique “portrait.”
On the 216th anniversary of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s birth, William W. Phelps’s prophetic song lyrics are as true now as ever: “Millions shall know ‘Brother Joseph’ again.”
For Latter-day Saints, part of knowing the Prophet is envisioning not only his teachings and character but also his physical appearance. Perhaps in part because no photographs of the Prophet are definitively known to exist, Latter-day Saints are often intrigued by depictions of him.
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Here are three of our favorite unique and fun depictions of the Prophet.
Oreo Cream Sculpture
To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision, last year artist Christopher Creek sculpted a profile of the Prophet in the filling of an Oreo. “When you say ‘Oreo cream,’ is it really cream? I don’t what that stuff is,” Creek told LDS Living. “Whatever it is, it sculpts pretty well.”
Creek’s intention was to honor Joseph Smith, albeit in a way that’s a little quirkier than the traditional sculpture of the First Vision he’d previously done in clay. He figured that if someone saw his Oreo sculpture for 30 seconds and it caught their eye, it would be a small way of sharing his testimony. “[Joseph Smith] is the crux of this whole last dispensation, the fulness of times; [he] ushered this whole thing in,” says Creek.
Read more here about the painstaking process of creating the cookie portrait, which included some licking of the artwork.
Comic Book Character
In 2019, Latter-day Saint Andrew Knaupp collaborated with Marvel and DC comics illustrator Sal Velluto to create Pillar of Light, a graphic novel that depicts Joseph Smith and his First Vision in the format of a comic book.
Knaupp has worked as a writer, art director, designer, and producer of faith-based graphic novels that depict the Book of Mormon, while Velluto has illustrated life stories from Joseph Smith’s life for the Friend in addition to his impressive list of Marvel and DC credits.
“So many young people learn from and are drawn to the graphic novel illustrated format. It is a powerful way to teach,” Knaupp told LDS Living, explaining why the creators want the graphic novel easily accessible to everyone. “We are excited to do a telling of the story that will reach people young and old in a new and profound way. We want to inspire the youth and to build their testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”
Read the full article here to see more art from the graphic novel.
Death Mask Photo Reconstruction
Several early photographs have been purported to depict the Prophet, but most have been discredited, and no known photos of him are definitively known to exist.
However, one 19th-century photo in the Church History Library does depict a likeness of Joseph Smith, though perhaps not in the way you might expect.
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One Latter-day Saint family in the 1800s decided to take matters into their own hands when they wished for a photo of the Prophet. The family created “photographs” of Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith that were actually reconstructed images made using the two men’s death masks—an ingenious technique considering Photoshop was a century away.
Read more here about a podcast that discusses the photo.
“Joseph”: An LDS Living Podcast
But first we need to be clear: this isn’t a podcast featuring only historical commentaries and timelines. Instead, host Heidi Swinton and her friends discuss how they came to know Joseph as a friend.
So if you feel like you know Joseph already, this podcast is for you. If you feel hesitant to know Joseph, then this podcast is definitely for you. Because Joseph will show that while everyone comes to know Joseph Smith in different ways, the most important thing is how they’ve come closer to Christ through the Prophet of the Restoration.