I truly believe that taking classes this spring term was a very good idea. I always felt like I should take classes this summer, even if it has cost us much more than we thought. I am particularly loving all of my classes. I have been immersing myself in art. It has been wonderful. But, one of the most wonderful things has been my painting teacher. He has inspired me in many many ways. I haven’t made incredible paintings in this class, and I won’t necessarily make awesome paintings because I had this teacher, but I will be a better person for having taken him as my professor.
Wulf Barsch (or Wulf von Barsch) is my painting teacher. Go ahead and Google him. He has inspired me to read, to learn, and to figure things out for myself. Yes, he’s an “old man” and old men have their “ideas,” but for the most part I believe Barsch. His knowledge of the gospel is what has me especially intrigued. He’s a very smart, learned man. I love that he has incorporated the gospel of Jesus Christ and the restored truths found within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help us understand art and painting.
Yesterday in class we watched a video, an interview with President Boyd K. Packer with James C. Christensen, a former art professor at BYU. It was very insightful to hear what a prophet of God, who does art, thinks about art and its importance. As I was walking home from class I was thinking about the importance of words. How we use words everyday, especially phrases within the Church, that have more meaning, or different meanings other than how they are used today. Elder Packer said in the end of his interview how we should “adorn the walls of the temple.” And then he defined what the word “adorn” means.
Adorn – to give luster to, as in quality.
It doesn’t mean to add fancy do-dads (bejeweled) or streams of Crete paper on your ceiling. Today adorn is often synonymous with decoration. However, within the definition of adorn, I find the word luster to be intriguing. What does luster really mean? Well, here’s one definition that I believe fits into this definition.
Luster – glory or distinction.
I think when referring to decorating a temple, glory and distinction make perfect sense. Look at D&C 109, the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland Temple:
(bold and italics added for emphasis)
Verse 8 – Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;
Verse 12 – That thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house, which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house;
Verse 16 – And that this house may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory and of God, even thy house;
Verse 22 – And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;
Verse 37 – And let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory.
Verses 76 & 77 – That our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings. O Lord God Almighty, hear us in these our petitions, and answer us from heaven, thy holy habitation, where thou sittest enthroned, with glory, honor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgment, mercy, and an infinity of fulness, from everlasting to everlasting.
That is seven references to glory in the dedicatory prayer for this highly adorned building, even the house of God. I would say that President Packer knows of what he speaks, and choose his words very well.
And then what about the word quality, that’s also apart of President Packer’s definition of adorn? What does that really mean?
Quality – means character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence.
So, the word adorn could be stated this way: Adorn means to give glory or distinction to, as in character with respect to fineness, or grade of excellence. That certainly makes sense when you talk of adorning a temple. The temples built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether big or small, are built of quality materials, craftsmanship, and experience. When building the Salt Lake Temple, the artists chosen to paint the inside wall murals were talented, trained, and full of inspiration. But, they still needed to learn the fundamentals. They were sent to Paris to study painting laws before they could paint the walls inside the temple. The stained glass found in the Salt Lake Temple were done by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Church spared no expense in building the Temple, because it was to be the house of the Lord. The Lord has standards. The temples built by the Church are beautiful inside and out.
So, it was as I was pondering words, their true meanings, that I began wondering how I could put words into art. But, defining a word has already been done in art (see Joseph Kosuth). So, I was at a stand still, until I thought that I should start writing my ideas down, and then that idea led to a wonderful idea… Why don’t I write a book? A book about the true nature of art! There is so much confusion today about what art is. Today some people believe in the Greenbergian idea of “art for art sake” or that everything can be considered art. But, I don’t believe either of these ideas. I don’t think that covering a room with cheese is art (see Cosimo Cavallaro). New ideas don’t mean they are smart ideas. I think it is detestable that society has begun to lessen its values to consider everything art. Art should be to beautify our world, not to degrade or break down. In fact throwing apart and slander is diabolic, what Lucifer does. Lucifer can not create. Symbolic, from an art standpoint, means to throw things together. There have been several art movements based upon the diabolic – Deconstructivism, Fauvism, and Cubism. Beauty attracts. Ugliness repels. Power of sight and smell tell us these things. Throughout different cultures and times there have been different people creating different art, but there remained something beautiful in them. Mathematical principles govern paintings, music, and architecture. Don’t let art go beyond its bounds. Don’t let it be corrupted. Say enough is enough.
My vision is to write a book about art, what it is, according to eternal laws and principles. I will include secular learning as well as reference the Holy Scriptures and prophets, past and present. There are laws and there are barriers. Truth and beauty are synonyms, so beauty is not in the eye of the beholder (as Margaret Wolfe Hungerford stated in her play Molly Bawn). They are judged by laws. Laws are eternal. They were established before the world was. God cannot change the laws. He himself is bound by them.
I am really excited about this project. I know it will take me some time to finish this, but I hope to make it a book of truth, and not a book based upon the world’s standards. We have enough false ideas going around the world. I think it’s far past time for light and truth to become important again.
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