Springville exhibit showcases diverse artistic exploration of humanity, spirituality
The Springville Museum of Art has unveiled its 37th annual Spiritual and Religious Exhibition, which showcases diverse art pieces depicting religion, spirituality, humanity and connection.
The exhibit will feature 238 pieces displayed through six showrooms in the museum, taking up a majority of the first floor of the historic building. In total, 657 pieces were entered for the show, Associate Director Shannon Acor said, and an outside jury selected which art pieces would be displayed.
“We really believe that this is a place where all people can feel peace and be accepted,” Acor said. “And I think that’s a really good part of what our mission is for the Spiritual and Religious Exhibition, too. We want it to be open to all people.”
The exhibit displays artwork in various mediums that portray an artist’s personal interpretation of their relationship with religion and spirituality. Compositions range from traditional paintings to abstract works made of Lego bricks to metalwork.
Within the 238 productions are depictions of Jesus Christ, some moving away from the common European portrayal of Christ; indigenous heritage and spirituality; experiences within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; humanity; and life and death.
A handful of artists also received awards, such as best of show or the director’s choice, with cash prizes to be provided this year, Acor said. This year’s best of show was awarded to Rose Datoc Dall, a Filipina-American contemporary artist who has done religious artwork for the Mesa Arizona Temple Visitor’s Center.
Dall’s piece is titled “A Light in the Wilderness” and features Jesus Christ on a hill carrying a burning candle, lighting the array of soothing blues and oranges covering the canvas.
The painting is inspired by a scripture from the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 17:13, Dall said, which describes Christ as being a “light in the wilderness.”
She said that “wilderness” could mean anything for someone, such as a difficult or dark time in one’s life, and there are many applications to the scripture.
“I hope that there’s some measure of the Spirit in the painting,” she said. “That if people are open to it, maybe they’re at a place in their life that, ‘Oh yeah, that means something to me right now.'”
A notable theme throughout the gallery was motherhood, with several compositions highlighting nurturing connections between a mother and child. One such piece is by Tatiana Castro, an artist from Eagle Mountain, which received the Director’s Award for the show.
The painting, titled “Rebozo de Amor,” depicts a mother carrying a small child on her back wrapped in a rebozo, a traditional Mexican garment.
“The rebozo is a garment that women use to shelter and protect a small child, similar to the love and good example of a mother,” reads the description next to the colorful, meticulously detailed painting.
The Spiritual and Religious Exhibition has been an annual event since about 1985, said Museum Director Emily Larsen, though one year was skipped during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the last 10 years, the museum has put an emphasis on diversity in the exhibit, allowing artists of many backgrounds, religions and ideologies to bring their artistic expression into the show.
Larsen said she believes the show has become a space for artists to be brave in their expression and in search of answers to existential questions.
“The artists are really grappling with big ideas and questions, kind of soul-searching questions of what it means to be human, what’s the meaning of life, what happens after death, how are we connected and how do we overcome different things that we experience as humans,” she said.
In a time when the world is grappling with war and violence, Larsen said she hopes the exhibit can provide a space away from the destruction.
“This show is a little bit to me of an antidote to all of that because it really showcases our shared humanity and connection that we all do have this human experience,” she said.
The exhibit will remain in the museum until Jan. 10, 2024, and entry into the museum is free to the public.