Festival FAQ

What is the Mormon Arts Center Festival?

The three-day Mormon Arts Center Festival will be held at Riverside Church in New York City, June 29-July 1, 2017

  • 2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of LDS President Spencer W. Kimball’s address on the Gospel in the Arts
  • The 3-day Festival will explore the legacy of President Kimball’s groundbreaking message through exhibitions, concerts, presentations, academic discourse, and publications
  • The Festival seeks to introduce Church artists to the public and place them in context with their peers in the art capital of the world
  • The Festival is also an experiment regarding potential interest for a long-term center for Mormon Arts located in New York City

What is the art exhibition about and who is involved?

“Immediate Present,” a group art exhibition featuring 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, coming 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 will be housed in a freestanding gallery space especially constructed for the Festival. It will include paintings, photography, video installation, and sculpture.

View the gallery here.


What is going to happen at the Festival?

The Festival will include a keynote address, symposium, gallery exhibition, concerts and presentations featuring Mormon artists. These will take place at multiple venues inside Riverside Church in New York City.

Who is giving the keynote address?

Opening night keynote address 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)

What’s going on at the symposium?

A day of scholarship 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


Tell me about music.

A concert in Christ Chapel 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 will introduce new and familiar music by a wide range of performers and scholars. These include Michael Hicks, Jeremy Grimshaw, Nathan Thatcher, Ethan Wickman, and Craig Jessop.

If I can’t come to New York, how can I participate?

There will be many ways to experience the Festival without being in the room. Four publications will be created that capture the presentations and speakers. An exhibition catalog will show the artworks and pair them with other Mormon voices. Additionally, many of the events will be streamed live, captured for later dissemination on YouTube and social media. Throughout the Festival, we will be generating original content in the form of interviews and videos, and we will seek the thoughts of the public as it’s happening.

Will there be social events?

Yes, one of the goals of the Festival is to bring people together. Every component of the event will encourage meeting each other and sharing our interests and curiosity. Some of these social events include:

Donor’s preview of the exhibition and reception

Opening night party

Networking events, luncheons, and gatherings throughout the Festival

Closing night celebration