One of the first thoughts to strike a visitor to Springville Museum of Art’s 24th annual Spiritual and Religious Art of Utah exhibition is, “Where do I begin?” The vast collection—a juried exhibit of 188 pieces chosen from 300 submitted works—fills many rooms and hallways with painting, sculpture and other types of art manifesting Utah-based artists’ spiritual convictions. Equally extensive in the show is the diversity of spiritualities expressed. This aspect may be enlightening to many visitors who may be surprised to learn of the increasingly heterogeneous home that Utah is to the many faiths represented by these artists.
The diversity of spiritual representations is matched by the varied modes of expression of those beliefs. Each piece is unique, and many of the pieces transcend traditional expectations of religious works of art, which typically incorporated primitive symbols, ancient artifacts, icons, altarpieces and a more recent monopoly of realism (Lee Cowan’s “This Dichotomy Leads” is pictured). The hundreds of approaches contemporary artists have taken to present their work to the Springville jury is indicative of a new age for religious art and freedom of religious expression in a state once limited by homogeneity of faith.
The exhibition’s timely nature in the holiday season serves to make evident the diversified ideologies in Utah, and to celebrate the season while respecting and embracing each unique individual spirituality in unity.