President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, harbors artistic talent that has remained largely unknown, until now.
The Jacob Spori Art Gallery is the first to ever feature President Eyring's artwork, in an exhibit titled "A Visual Journal." The gallery featured a myriad of his art pieces, containing only a fraction of the many watercolor paintings, drawings, and wood carvings that he has created.
The true magnitude of the pieces that President Eyring has created is extraordinary. At least 700 pieces had to be narrowed down to the 195 displayed in the exhibit, a daunting task for the curator, Kyoung DaBell. A strategy for choosing which pieces to display had to be established.
"When I was sorting through the hundreds of paintings, I started to organize them based on the different subject matters," DaBell said. "Figures, seascapes, landscapes, family, foreign places, people, horses - all of these subject matters needed to be represented. I wanted to make sure that President Eyring's incredible versatility could be seen in the exhibit. Not only is he versatile with his subject matter, but also his painting styles. He can render his subject matter as tight as he wants, or he can be as expressive as he wants in his painting."
Prior to the exhibit, President Eyring's artwork had never been revealed to the public, with the majority of his artwork kept in storage and a few select pieces on display in his home and office.
"President Eyring probably had half a dozen pieces that he framed in his home and in his office, but the rest of the art pieces were filed away in binders," DaBell said. "These gems were all hiding. They have never been on display before, so this has been a great privilege to be able to see his art with our own eyes."
Not only was the exhibit unique because of its novelty, but also because of the nature of the art. President Eyring never had any formal artistic training, and his talent is derived from a pure instinct to create and portray that which is special to him.
President Eyring's artwork is truly reminiscent of the exhibit's title, "A Visual Journal." Each painting is a representation of places that he has been and people that he has seen. Some of the artwork in the exhibit was accompanied by the journal entry that inspired it, giving a chance for attendees to have insight into his perspective.
"President Eyring has painted scenes from all throughout the world, and they're all beautiful," DaBell said. "There's a beauty all around in everyday life if we want to see it, and I think that President Eyring sees it."
DaBell says those who were able to attend the exhibit shared a sense of surprise.
"After viewing President Eyring's art, most people expressed how surprised they were at the quality of his work, and they also expressed that they feel the love that he has for people and for the world," DaBell said.
This is one of the reactions that DaBell had after viewing the artwork, and a reaction that she hoped attendees would share with her.
"President Eyring paints what he sees and what he loves, and through those paintings, I feel God's love," DaBell said. "I would love for people to see these same things beyond just beautiful paintings. I hope that they see President Eyring's love for all of us, and through that, they see the love God has for all of His children."