|Road to Emmaus by J. Kirk Richards|
Religious art is an interesting thing. Our reaction to art, just like our relationship with faith and religion, is highly personal. We can take into account the skill of the artist, the colors they use, the subject matter, but there's an emotional element involved as well. Which is what makes religious art so interesting; we bring much along with us when we come to it.
I love Brian Kershisnik's Nativity. I love the movement of all the angels crowded together hovering over the Holy Family. I love Joseph's look of relief. I love that he is kneeling behind Mary, and that she is there, nursing her babe, with the midwives in front of her.
The older couple standing next to me in the museum where the piece hung did not love the piece. I think they were disconcerted by the image of Mary nursing. But the piece is also rather contemporary. Brian Kershisnick's work all has a touch of whimsy. Standing, as we were, in Provo, Utah, I am going to go out on a limb and say that all three of us were of the Mormon faith. But where the painting speaks volumes to me, it did not to them.
Madeleine L'Engle said of Christian Art that "Art is art; painting is painting; music is music; a story is a story. If it's bad art, it's bad religion, no matter how pious the subject." But she also says this, "What is a true icon of God to one person may be blasphemy to another...I know what is religious art for me. You know what is religious art for you. And they are not necessarily the same."
Depicting our faith through art has always been important to my community. Some of the results appeal to me more than others. And this may all seem like an unnecessary caveat. But below are some paintings by Mormon artists; some that I love, some that I appreciate (including the Kershisnik piece.)
J. Kirk Richards is hands-down, my favorite. As is true with any artist, I don't love all of his work. But I love most of it.
Minerva Teichert I love her use of color. She has a very distinct style, and is known for her depictions of the West, Mormon history, and scripture stories from the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Walter Rane's paintings are intense. There is a lot of movement and power in them. Most of his work falls into the appreciation column for me. I do love his depiction of a young Joseph Smith.
(From the Book of Mormon)
|Someday when I am wealthy I will commission my own piece showing Elijah and the angel in 1 Kings, because it is one of my favorite stories.|
|The Desires of My Heart|
Brian Kershisnik's work is not often overtly religious, but he certainly deals with religious themes, and mostly, everyday life.
Rose Datoc Dall is someone I was recently introduced to. Her work is quite classical, and there's a focus on beauty.