Jesus Christ's Mug Shot

Last night our Bishop stopped by unannounced. We just moved (two months ago) and have been debating going to the family ward, or the student ward. So in our perilous struggle for the right ward, we have been putting off attending church altogether. The student ward begins at 9am and is across town, and the family ward begins at 12 and is within walking distance. Yeah, a real hard choice – I know.

When we heard the knock, my husband sprinted upstairs in his garments (he was laying around in them) to change. I answered the door and the Bishop walked in and introduced himself. My husband started getting winded as he picked up the living room and covered his computer screen where he was watching a pirated version of “Rambo.” We talked, but I felt one edge seeing as our house was a pig sty (to anyone else’s standards really) and my husband was wearing the fleece pajama pants I made him. Keep in mind I made them from bright blue fabric with cartoon frogs all over it.

As the Bishop tried to take us seriously, we made an appointment to meet. After he left, we exhaled and my husband said, “Hey nice job with the stuff on the walls honey.” I looked at our living room wall. An 18” x 24” framed photo of Jesus Christ exiting his tomb, and my hand-made 8” x 24” plaque that says, “Families are Forever.” So just in case the Bishop had any doubts he might be in the wrong place, our only decoration in the entire house proves it. No one can argue that, although all Christians would theoretically have the same décor, Mormon décor is particularly identifiable. (Note pix below.)

I find it hard to resist Deseret Book and their many pictures of Jesus that I could put up all over my house. I admit, really the pictures are corny. But what Mormon house do you enter that doesn’t have the beautiful Jesus mug shot in the doorway? Or large plaques with cute sayings on them, that are most likely hand-made with rub-on letters and crackle paint? Or a peg board with hanging names for FHE?

Okay, I don’t just want pictures of Jesus so people know I’m a Mo when they walk in the door. I also don’t want the same pictures everyone else has. (See below.) Unfortunately, Deseret Book Charges upwards of $300 for good stuff. Sheesh. I need to go into the Mormon painting business.

This idea of the "Mormon Front" is something I haven't come to terms with yet. I don't hate it, and I don't like it. It's just this silent thing that goes on in LDS communities. As a convert I don't understand as much as those who have been in the church their whole lives. You put up pictures of Jesus, have a few Ensigns laying around, have those stickers on the back of your van that indicate how many members of the family there are in stick figures, etc... Given that I might have done all this anyway had I not converted, I don't feel particularly cultish. But man, can we get some VARIETY!!!???

P.S. I love Jesus.


Jettboy said...

I understand what you are saying, and mostly agree. Mormon art has always been rather boring and not very creative. Still, I wonder if you have visited the house of a devout Christian of another faith.

Most Protestants have decor that is very similar. They might have a small simple cross hanging up somewhere. Catholics are the polar opposites. What they have is usually full of deep colors and perhaps unrealistic. Most likely you have seen the Catholic style on T-Shirts or the back of car windows.

I would like to expand the Mormon iconic art, but don't see it changing any time soon. Even if there were changes, I don't know what direction it would take.

April said...

Well, being a convert myself, I have been in the houses of dozens of different faiths. Yes, they do all have similar art. It's just those few photos that appear in EVERY church, and in every home. It IS interesting and it probably won't take a turn if everyone still enjoys it like they currently do.

Personally though, my favorites include temple photos. I never seem to get tired of them.

Anonymous said...

PS I love your blog!

Seriously, reading your blog is causing me to remember things when I first converted, or when I first married. I actually had a similar experience when the Bishopric came over unannounced and my own husband did the garment sprint to the bedroom to get dressed LOL!

We have the famous mugshot in our home too, as well as a plaque that reads families are forever.

If you go into the business and need a partner, give me a heads up LOL!

shawn said...

In terms of art, I couldn't disagree more. While it is true that many choose to hang some of the older paintings of Christ, recent LDS artists have created incredible depictions of Christ. Take for example recent works of Simon Dewey, Greg olsen, Liz Lemon Swindle and David Lindsley. Their work has an incredible amount of light that create a sureal feeling about them. Are they expensive, yes, but how else do you expect these artist to have time to work on their skills unless they do it for a living?

April said...

The very idea that Mormon painters are requesting upwards of $500 for each painting they produce is going against all we have learned. Be frugal, be conservative, give to charity, etc... Charging so much money for these decrative items is simply rediculous. Charge less, and consider the rest a donation.

Anonymous said...

As an amateur art collector and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I find it amazing that there is a complaint for a $300-$500??? Ignorance?

Photos, sayings, paintings, etc...don't mean a thing about your relationship with the Church or the Savior. ...It is just stuff.

Not all Mormons have this who are active and strong members!

...Again ignorance!

David Stoker said...

High quality art should be paid for at market value. I personally would not put the Dewey, Olsen, Swindle art in that category, I think they are painting for the market, not very creative or particularly brilliant, but they sell.

I find some interesting pieces surfacing from the LDS International Art competitions. It is a shame that some of those pieces, even ones purchased by the Church, do not have wider circulation and recognition.

Anonymous said...

Those outrageous prices are small when you realize these people are trying to make a living on their artwork. They are lucky to sell one or two pieces each month. The galleries and stores have huge mark-ups the artists never see. I recommend buying art directly from the artist or the artist's website. Personally acquainted with one of the above-named artists, I know this person has had to survive on the salary of an overworked spouse. Artists and musicians are never paid enough to live. For photographers, it's even worse.

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