Margaret Curtis: This, too. is on view in the Street Gallery through November 9, 2024

Church vs State: Contemporary Collecting Praxis

Feb 13, 2015 – Apr 11, 2015

Both governmental bodies and religious organizations have long histories in the collection of art that reflects the perceived dispositions of their communities. This practice continues to change and be changed by the dynamics of institutional identity, outside cultural pressure, and the natural cycles of civic participation.

Utah is not unique in that the state government plays a large role in shaping culture and social practice; however, what sets Utah apart is the influence of one specific religion—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its enormous influence on the identity, philosophy, and arts of the Beehive State.

Although both locally and nationally the culture of the LDS Church and its adherents are often depicted in opposition to those outside of the Church and vice-versa, such a reduction of the discourse is overly simplistic and does a disservice to the depth of the cultural production of Utahns, regardless of their religious or political affiliation. This exhibition seeks to inform this quandary by offering a glimpse of the art and artists that these prominent bodies— the State of Utah and the LDS Church—have recently chosen to add to their permanent collections.

As is evident throughout the exhibition, the collecting practices of each institution differ. The state collection aims at gathering a diverse and almost encyclopedic picture of Utah’s cultural production regardless of subject matter and to provide Utah artists with financial support. While the LDS Church, especially through the practices of its museum, collects works that explore and celebrate notions of religiosity, spirituality and faith in relationship to the Mormon experience.

Here in Church vs. State, the collections of both institutions oppose, support and expand each other.

*This exhibition was put together in collaboration with Felicia Baca and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums, and Laura Hurtado and the LDS Church History Museum.