SALT LAKE CITY — As a child growing up in New Zealand, Leroy Transfield loved to draw, but there was one problem. He couldn’t get behind the paper. He couldn’t see what was in back of his drawings.
“I guess I had it in me to be a sculptor,” Transfield said with a laugh as he reflected on his early beginnings as a sculptor.
His first art pieces were Book of Mormon figures for his mom’s seminary class in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Then as a university student, he entered a sculpture in the church's International Art Exhibit. He didn’t get in that show, but now, 29 years later, his terra-cotta sculpture “Christ Healing,” is on exhibit, along with 150 other beautiful, faith-filled art pieces, at the 11th International Art Competition on exhibit at the Church History Museum through Oct. 7.
The 151 artists — members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — who are represented at the competition reside in 26 countries, and their works reflect their diverse backgrounds. From the soil fragments of Mexico City and the quilt of silk threads from Japan to the Lego sculpture from Saudi Arabia and the Australian spiritual self-portrait of a lamb who has strayed, the forms take an introspective look at this year’s theme of “Meditations on Belief.” The subject was drawn from Psalms 77:10-12: “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”
As Transfield, now living in Orem, reflected on that theme, he thought of how Christ healed the blind man. The ambiguous, loose modeled clay sculpture also represents how Christ can heal individuals personally.
“In life we have hardships and we have things we need to be healed from,” Transfield said. “A lot of people have a lot of problems and things that they need to be healed from physically and mentally and spiritually.”
The theme of “Meditations on Belief” also stirred childhood memories in artist Jacqui Larsen from Springville.
Growing up in Syracuse, New York, Larsen was inspired by church primary songs and hymns. Music was a large part of Sunday meetings and she wanted to incorporate the marriage of memory, music and testimony in her art work.
“I began thinking of how I can make a piece that would make that visual in some way,” Larsen said. “I grabbed some old hymnbooks and began making a collage piece based on (those memories).”
Larsen works in mixed media and often attaches objects to her paintings. Her memories of “The Children Sing” songbook published in 1951, frottage rubbings from the embossed covers of the hymn books and the children’s primary song “The Golden Plates” are represented in her 3D sculptural wall piece called “The Children Sing.”
“I like objects because they carry with them history,” Larsen said. “They carry with them a history of use. Those hymnbooks have been used. They have been present when people were singing. I like bringing the actual hymnbooks into my work because it contains those moments of history within an object.”
The topic of the competition also spoke to her personally and guided her in the process of creating her first full 3D work.
“We do need to pause and meditate on our beliefs and think about how we have belief,” Larsen said. “How do we acquire it? How do we continue to develop it or nurture it?”
For Sarah Winegar of Springville, her relief reduction print “Come Unto Me” — completed her last semester at the University of Utah in 2017 — was a perfect fit for the competition.
Her linocut relief technique, was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.” Christ is at the center of her art, but surrounding him are Winegar’s family members.
“Those are the people who are relevant to my life,” Winegar said. “I think that following is unique for everyone. Everyone has their own way of following. For me it has always involved lots of people. It’s not an individual following. It’s an individual act, but including all my family. This is my way that I follow is being with the people that I love.”
The three works from Transfield, Larsen and Winegar were purchased by the museum. A total of 15 works were purchased to develop the Church History Museum’s art collection.Comment on this story
Jean Richardson served as a judge at this 11th International Art Competition. This was her first year as a juror.
“It’s an exciting show,” Richardson said. “I hope that when people come to see (the exhibit) they enjoy the diversity of materials and topics and themes.”
If you go ...
What: 11th International Art Exhibition: "Meditations on Belief"
When: Through Oct. 7; Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Church History Museum, 45 N. West Temple
How much: free