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LDS Church News

BYU exhibit celebrates the artwork of President Boyd K. Packer

By Jason Swensen

LDS Church News

Published: Saturday, May 31 2014 12:05 a.m. MDT

President Boyd K. Packer's woodcarving "Male Blue Jay on Norway Maple Leaves" is on permanent display at BYU's Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.

Jason Swensen

Since the time President Boyd K. Packer was a little boy, he has celebrated God’s creations through his artwork.

His artistic impulses first drew him to the birds and wildlife that were native to the woods and wetlands outside his hometown of Brigham City, Utah. Young Boyd Packer sketched insects, farm animals and waterfowl on discarded scraps of papers. He taught himself how to carve horses and big game from wood salvaged from packing boxes.

“Art satisfied my father’s need to create — and it gave him great pleasure,” said one of President Packer’s sons, Kenneth Packer.

For more than eight decades, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has been an amateur artist. President Packer’s work offered respite from his daily cares and duties — and has taught many others about the wonders of the Lord’s creations.

Much of his artwork will now be permanently displayed in a gallery of the newly renovated Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at Brigham Young University. The exhibit includes dozens of paintings, carvings and sculptures that President Packer crafted at different periods in his life.

The exhibit will surely be a highlight for the thousands of patrons who will visit the museum each year. President Packer’s delight in the natural world is evident in each of his many creations.

The many pieces feel entirely at home inside the popular life science museum. Nature and animals have been the defining theme of President Packer’s artwork. In his 2012 book The Earth Shall Teach Thee, he wrote of the spiritual relevance behind his artistic creations.

“It seems appropriate now that my artwork can serve to illustrate one of the most fundamental messages of the gospel: that God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all things that are in them, that all nature bears testimony of that divinely directed creation, and that there is complete harmony between nature, science, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

President Packer’s exhibit includes sections highlighting his formative years in the military and also the key role his art has played in making the Packer home a place of learning and beauty.

The gallery built to house the President Packer art exhibit was funded through private donations.

On May 28, friends and family joined President Packer for an open house at the exhibition. The Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, along with the President Packer exhibition, will open to the public on June 7.

jswensen@deseretnews.com