Monthly Archives: October 2015

Annette Everett: Art Begins with Inspiration


Annette Everett is an accomplished sculptor and painter. Her primary work is sculpture. She studied art at BYU, the University of Utah, and the Art Academy of Cincinnati. She also paints in pastel and oil, creating traditional and representational landscapes, portraits, and still life. She lives in St. George, Utah.


Describe yourself as an artist. I work in clay. With my hands in the clay, I feel a nourishing connection to the earth and to human understanding. My sculpture is considered traditional and representational, often symbolic. Common experiences of daily life interest me; I find beauty in simplicity; I find connection in the struggle to be better. I want to show that something that may be considered mundane is actually beautiful, essential. I want to show the outward image of inward experiences, expressed in human form. Like every artist, I strive to touch the emotions we have in common, inviting compassion and understanding.

The Church had a rich history of sculpture, then it didn’t for a long time, and now it seems to be on the rise again. How do you feel about art in the Church these days? Early in LDS Church history, artists were called on missions to Europe to learn; they then came home to express spiritual truths in symbolic ways for the Saints. Art is becoming recognized again as a way to explore spiritual concepts, and to touch hearts through the Spirit. I am excited to see a full range of artistic expression growing in the Church, from abstract and nonrepresentational through highly realistic. I cheer for the growing demand and supply of really good art within the Church.

You once said, “Art begins with inspiration, from inspiration to concept, to design, to creation, to presentation and then to home.” Explain. Art begins with INSPIRATION. What is the spark that catches our interest and how can I illustrate that spark? For me, I respond visually. For a writer, their response will be in words, for a musician – in music. Find your passion, and find a way to express it. This passion is the inspiration that will become a bridge of understanding. The greatness of feeling from the artist is the foundation for greatness in art. From that initial desire to express a spark of inspiration, we work out a CONCEPT that will show our idea. Using all the tools we have gathered in a lifetime – intuition, education, experience, talent and hard work, we DESIGN the concept we want to communicate. We now search for a way to show it in a concrete, visual way. This refers to using our skills and materials to organize various elements in order to communicate. And now, the CREATION. I put my hands into the clay to execute the inspiration, concept and design. I move the clay around until it pleases me. This is the work of art work. All the years of study, observation, and practice is concentrated into this time on this piece of art. Sometimes it works, sometimes it sits on a shelf until later. In order to express yourself artistically, and for that bridge to be built from your idea to their understanding, you need others to see your artwork. If you want your art to be seen, it must be PRESENTED in a way that will reach your audience. Some artists resist the business of art – art shows, competitions, galleries, prints and publications. But artists have families to feed, bills to pay, and materials to buy so their art can continue, so sales become an important consideration. How an artist balances creative vision and the real-world need to sell the art work has been the core of many a discussion. A sale is an effective way to judge the excellence or the acceptance of your work. Someone felt your emotion and matched it, and now, they want to spend money to take it home with them! This is a beautiful thing when it comes together. This changes lives. HOME is letting your inspiration and concept, your art piece, walk away from you and assume a life of its own. Visual art can be more than decoration. Art contributes to the quality of life. Great art has power to change, even to save – a life. Great art communicates to you not only its excellence, but it brings to mind and communicates to you, your memories, associations, emotions, and your passion, too.

What are you working on next? I am always in a debate about what to take all the way to bronze because it is an expensive process. I have many finished clay pieces that are “perking” on the shelf. I am actively sculpting a large bas relief about the Plan of Happiness. From the Savior, to Adam and Eve who opened the way for earthly mortality, to Priesthood functions that bring us full circle into the presence of the Savior again, I may be working on this one a while. Happily.

Visit Annette Everett’s website.


Maddison Colvin: Let Us Rejoice

Maddison Colvin‘s Let Us Rejoice (video, 2015) contrasts two Mormon Tabernacle Choir performances occurring three years apart. Simultaneously.  Colvin is currently an artist residing in Oregon. She holds degrees from Whitworth University and BYU.

Let Us Rejoice

From your view ‘on the inside’, what is the state of art in Mormon culture? Well, as far as I’ve experienced, there are different factions working indirectly alongside each other. One camp is the more traditional and/or narrative Mormon artists, who wear their faith on their sleeve and in the subject matter of their paintings. I’m thinking specifically of J. Kirk Richards, Brian Kershisnik, and Caitlin Connolly. They have huge followings in Mormondom and for good reason–they’re making narrative, religious/spiritual/personal work that isn’t just Liz Lemon Swindle smiling-Jesus stuff. That kind of Deseret-Book-Postcard-Art (Swindle et al) bores and even disgusts a lot of people, me included; they can’t identify it with their feelings about Christ or the gospel. When those people look for “religious art” (which is to say, art used specifically to reinforce or strengthen religious or spiritual ideas, often depicting religious or spiritual narratives), they turn to people like Minerva Teichert or the aforementioned people. It’s much more complex, satisfying, and visually interesting, while still directly related to LDS narratives, ideas, and culture. I think of this group as “Mormon Artists”, and they have large appeal within Mormondom, and often with closely culturally-aligned people outside of the church.

Then you have another camp, of “Artists who are Mormon”. They tend to be more critical, more academic, and/or more interested in the contemporary art world than in engaging with religious topics. A lot of BYU professors, students, and former students, are in this camp. Their work is often super interesting to other artists, and is a kind of opaque manifestation of faith in practice. Their Mormonism, often very important to them personally, is rarely visible in their work.

Then there’s “Art about Mormonism”. Most of these artists are ex-LDS, operating relatively successfully in the art world, and drawing from their personal or cultural heritage for their work. They are often interested in the more esoteric and weird aspects of Mormonism; the ones that are more conceptually glamorous. These artists make fully realized, critical/conceptual work, but their choice of subject matter is almost Oedipal. They’ve left the church but it’s still one of the most engaging personal experiences they can draw on and they will continue to return to it.

In other words, the art satellites orbiting around Mormonism’s gravity serve radically different purposes. “Mormon artists” service the community most directly with art that speaks directly to common narratives and faith principles. Its traditional, illustrative form, however, will likely not be taken terribly seriously by art-world viewers. [My grandparents would love this art.] “Artists who are Mormon” operate on the ‘by their works ye shall know them’ sort of principle of making sincere, rigorous, intelligent work primarily intended to exist in the art world. [My grandparents would be confused about this art.] “Art about Mormonism” is interested in narratives, symbolism, and principles of faith, is generally rigorous and intelligent, but comes from artists who no longer believe in those narratives, symbols, and principles. Their audience is primarily outside the church, as the work can expose or makes light of things we consider sacred. [My grandparents would be insulted or outraged by this art.] What I would like to see more of, and what are largely missing, are Artists who are Mormon making Art about Mormonism. The audience for their work (which would be faithful, directly related to LDS ideas/issues, and rigorous/critical) is so tiny as to be negligible, partly explaining the lack of visibility for this kind of work.  [I don’t know how grandparents would react to this art, therefore.]

Visit Maddison Colvin’s website.

Follow Maddison Colvin on Instagram.



Heather Dixon: Storyboard Artist


Heather Dixon is a writer, illustrator, animator, and storyboard artist. She is currently a storyboard artist for Disney Interactive. She graduated from the BYU Animation program and is a story person for several studios—including directing some Mormon Messages on YouTube. She lives in Utah. Dixon maintains a very funny blog at

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Describe yourself as an artist. I’m primarily a story artist and writer, though I do illustration work as well. Usually my stuff is quick and sketchy. I also love it when I have time to flesh out a piece, though, and I love to try different styles. Girls in big poofy dresses are my muse. And of course Mary Poppins! She’s my favorite thing to draw. She’s so glam.

Talk about your work at Disney. What are the pros and cons of working for a huge company? I help make the Infinity video games, which are a kick! I do a lot of boarding of the cinematics in between the gameplay, and writing for the stories and characters. There are a lot of great perks to working for Disney–not the least of which is free entrance to Disneyland and Disneyworld! I like that part 🙂 The downer of working at such a large company is the approvals process–the story snags on a lot of things before it sees the light of day.

What do you think about art and the Church these days? I’m not well versed on the art scene, but since I’ve worked as a board artist for the Church, I can relate my experience from the inside. I’m really impressed with what the Church has been doing lately–they’re pushing the envelope with animation, going for more artsy and conceptual, so the projects have been quite a lot of abstract fun to work on. There are so many talented LDS artists who contribute, and I only see that growing as the Work moves forward.

Visit Heather Dixon’s website.

Follow Heather Dixon on Instagram.

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