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How artists depict the Divine topic for BYU Museum of Art symposium Nov. 7

Throughout the history of humankind’s creative endeavors, artists have concerned themselves with representing the Divine. This year’s biennial Art, Belief, Meaning Symposium at the BYU Museum of Art will examine how artists — both past and present — have responded to the challenge of representing Godliness.

This year’s free symposium, titled “Picturing the Divine,” will be held in the Museum of Art Auditorium on Friday, Nov. 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The symposium will feature a keynote address by LDS painter Brian Kershisnik and a diverse mix of presentations by scholars, art professionals, practicing artists and BYU students that addresses the visual arts, literature and film.

“I believe this year’s symposium will be the most informative and inspiring of the Art, Belief, Meaning Symposium series to date,” said Herman du Toit, Museum of Art educator and symposium organizer. “A rigorous paper selection process and a new one-day schedule have allowed us to concentrate our attention on the best paper proposals. Additionally, we are excited to have Brian Kershisnik as our keynote speaker because he offers a valuable practitioner’s view on how art can give perspective to spirituality.”

The son of a petroleum geologist, Kershisnik grew up in Luanda, Angola; Bangkok, Thailand; Conroe, Texas; and Islamabad, Pakistan. After serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denmark, he returned to BYU where he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting in 1988. He completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in printmaking at the University of Texas at Austin in 1991 and has been actively engaged as a painter ever since. He was a guest professor at BYU in 2006 and an artist in residence at the Utah Museum of Fine Art in 2007. He has exhibited extensively and many of his works are held in corporate and public collections.

One of Kershisnik’s more recent works, a large oil on canvas painting of the birth of Christ titled “Nativity” (88 in. x 204 in.), will be on view in the museum for the symposium.

The BYU Museum of Art has hosted the biennial Art, Belief, Meaning Symposium since 1998. The purpose of the symposium is to provide an opportunity for Latter-day Saint artists, critics and commentators to contribute to the ongoing discussion about issues related to art and spirituality that have always concerned serious religious artists. Some of these issues include the role of the artist in relation to the mission of the Church, the place of self-expression, belief, and inspiration in religious art, and the ways in which individual testimony finds expression in the work of the artist.

“Our goal is to articulate our interest in the making of art that is not only relevant and meaningful for our day, but also bears witness, and gives perspective to the realities that flow from the restored gospel,” said Du Toit. “This series provides an opportunity for like-minded believers — those with deep and often passionate interests in the arts — to come together, reason together, and benefit from each others’ points of view.”

The Art, Belief, Meaning Symposium is free and open to the public. No prior registration is required. A complete program of the symposium is available on request or can be downloaded from the museum’s Web site here.

Writer: James Phillips

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