Festival 2017

View videos from the 2017 festival on our YouTube channel

The first Mormon Arts Center Festival was held at The Riverside Church in New York City, June 29-July 1, 2017. 2017 marked the fiftieth anniversary of LDS President Spencer W. Kimball’s address on the Gospel in the Arts. The 3-day Festival explored the legacy of President Kimball’s groundbreaking message through exhibitions, concerts, presentations, academic discourse, and publications.

Art Exhibition

“Immediate Present,” a group art exhibition featured contemporary LDS artists represented in the permanent collection of the Church History Museum.

Artists: Pam Bowman, Whitney Bushman, Stephanie Kelly Clark, Caitlin Connolly, Jeff Decker, Daniel Everett, Rachel Farmer, Jeff Hein, Ben Howell, Levi Jackson, Brian Kershisnik, David Chapman Lindsay, Jason Metcalf, Annie Poon, Walter Rane, J. Kirk Richards, Jean Richardson, Ron Richmond, Jorge Cocco Santangelo, Mary Sauer, Casey Jex Smith, Page Turner, and Chase Westfall.

Artworks created in the last three years, came from the permanent collection of the Church History Museum. Curated by Laura Allred Hurtado, Global Acquisitions Art Curator at the Church History Museum, Salt Lake City, UT.

The exhibition was housed in a freestanding gallery space especially constructed for the Festival. It included paintings, photography, video installation, and sculpture.

View the gallery here.


A day of scholarship was organized by Richard and Claudia Bushman with presentations from a variety of scholars exploring Kimball’s artistic call to arms—where are we now, its influence on a generation of Mormon Artists. Participants:

Campbell Gray (art museum director, curator, and scholar) - Director, The University of Queensland Art Museum (Queensland, Australia) 2011-present; formerly Director, Brigham Young University Museum of Art (1996-2011)

Michael Hicks (composer and scholar) - Author of Mormonism and Music: A History (1989) and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir: A Biography) (2015); founder of Group for New Music (BYU); editor of the journal American Music (2007-2010); professor of music (BYU)

Jared Hickman (author and scholar) - Author of Race and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery and co-author of Americanist Approaches to the Book of Mormon (both, Oxford University Press, 2016); associate professor of English, Johns Hopkins University Adam S. Miller (author and scholar) - Author of Future Mormon, Essays in Mormon Theology (2016) and Letters to a Young Mormon (2013), professor of philosophy at Collin College (McKinney, TX), and director of Mormon Theology Seminar

Glen Nelson (author, curator, and scholar) - Founder and director, Mormon Artists Group (1999-present), author of Mormons at the Met (2012), librettist for the operas The Book of Gold, The Singer’s Romance, and The Dead (all with composer Murray Boren), curator and author of the forthcoming retrospective at the Church History Museum (Salt Lake City, UT), Joseph Paul Vorst (2017)

Steven L. Peck (novelist and scholar) - Author of The Scholar of Moab (2011) and A Short Stay in Hell (2012); professor of biology (BYU)

Jana Riess (author and editor) - Author of Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor (2011); co-author, Mormonism for Dummies (2005), co-author of Mormonism and American Politics (2015); former religion book editor for Publishers Weekly

Eric Samuelsen (playwright and critic) - Retired professor of theatre (BYU); author of two dozen plays, including Gadianton (1996), The Seating of Senator Smoot (1996), The Way We’re Wired (1999), Family (2005), and Amerigo (2010); critic/correspondent and blogger/founder of Mormon Iconoclast

Paul L. Anderson (architectural historian and curator) - former president of the Mormon History Association (2007-2008), curator at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art

Kristine Haglund (historian and editor) - Current editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

Keynote Address

Opening night keynote address was delivered by Terryl Givens, professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond, author of People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture (Oxford University Press, 2007); The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith (Deseret Book, co-author, Fiona Givens, 2014)


A concert in Christ Chapel was performed by the Deseret String Quartet of works drawn from the previous winners of the Barlow commissions for LDS composers, organized by Ethan Wickman, Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Texas at San Antonio; Executive Director of the Barlow Endowment of Music Composition at Brigham Young University.

Presentations throughout the Festival introduced new and familiar music by a wide range of performers and scholars. These included Michael Hicks, Jeremy Grimshaw, Nathan Thatcher, Ethan Wickman, and Craig Jessop.