Winners of the 2023 BYU Book of Mormon Art Contest

The winners of the inaugural Book of Mormon Art Contest were announced today by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and the Book of Mormon Art Catalog.

“I was genuinely moved by the deep engagement with the Book of Mormon evident in these works of art,” said Rosalynde Frandsen Welch, Associate Director of the Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University (BYU). “These student artists, it was clear, know the book through and through, and they find the same divine power in it that I do. Each submission was a little window onto a moment in the text, and each one left me with fresh understanding.”

In his famous “Gospel Vision of the Arts” address in 1977, President Spencer W. Kimball urged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to engage artistically with the Gospel “to give life and feeling and true perspective to a subject so worthy.” Building off that vision, the Book of Mormon Art Contest encouraged BYU students to visualize the Book of Mormon in creative ways. The call for submissions especially encouraged art that 1) showcases underrepresented figures or scenes from the text, 2) demonstrates unique stylistic and technical approaches, and 3) highlights a variety and diversity of cultures in the Book of Mormon and in the global church. Cash prizes are $1,000 for the first-place winner, $800 for second place, $600 for third place, and $100 for each of six honorable mentions.

Nathan Petersen, an information technology undergraduate at BYU, submitted a set of 3D-printed stripling warrior figures to the contest. Petersen noted that “this art project enhanced my knowledge and appreciation of the Book of Mormon, allowing me to develop a stronger connection to its teachings and apply them in meaningful ways.”

The Book of Mormon Art Contest is organized by the Maxwell Institute and the Book of Mormon Art Catalog. Directed by art historian Jennifer Champoux and funded by the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies within the Maxwell Institute, the Book of Mormon Art Catalog is a comprehensive, open-access, digital database of Book of Mormon art (http://book-of-mormon-art.local).

Champoux said many of the contest submissions helped her consider familiar scripture passages in new ways. “Because the Book of Mormon Art Catalog gathers and organizes all Book of Mormon art from around the world,” said Champoux, “it reveals some gaps in the existing portfolio of art. We hope that contests like this will help fill in those gaps and allow both artists and viewers to connect even more deeply with the Book of Mormon.”

A judging committee of BYU faculty from the Maxwell Institute, Religious Education, Comparative Arts and Letters, and the Museum of Art carefully considered the 95 artwork submissions. First place is awarded to Joseph Chu for In Christ We Are Made Alive. Chu said this digital artwork represents how our relationship with Christ “can breathe new life in every aspect of our existence.” The second place winner is Sierra Newbold for her Journey of the Jaredites ink drawing. Newbold drew from ancient Sumerian art styles to depict the Jaredites within a barge crossing the ocean. Third place goes to Tehya Vassar for And They Were Strong. The daughters of Ishmael, as described in 1 Nephi, are represented few times in visual art. This charcoal drawing portrays one of these strong women.

Honorable Mention is awarded to David Wing for Teancum’s Decision, Addison Jackson for Daughter’s Faith, Leia Aki for Opposition, Jayden Itejere for Behold and for Land of Desolation, and Makayla Erickson for A Cartoon Retelling of the Book of Mormon.

Anthony Sweat, an associate professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU and an artist himself, said “the works submitted by BYU students for the inaugural Book of Mormon Art Contest were phenomenal. They powerfully captured many underrepresented scenes and a diversity of people using unique styles and approaches. I will be using some of their artwork to supplement my own classroom teaching. The students who submitted deserve to be applauded.”

The winning artworks will be exhibited at the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU this fall. Additional artworks from the contest will be on display at the Joseph Smith Building on campus starting in September. All 95 of the contest entries will be available to view at the Book of Mormon Art Catalog website starting this fall.