A new exhibit featuring more than 100 watercolor paintings, sketches and journals created by President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are on display at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. The exhibition titled “A Visual Journal: The Artwork of Henry B. Eyring,” opens November 9 and runs through January 21, 2019.
“I don’t think of myself as an artist,” explained President Eyring. “I’m a fellow that likes art and likes memories.”
President Eyring took an art class in junior high school but has received very little formal training. “My education has been two wonderful artists who a couple of times painted with me, and that’s it,” he said. The artists are Dick Bird, who was on the faculty at Ricks College, now Brigham Young University–Idaho, when President Eyring was president, and artist Michael Coleman.
The senior Church leader has kept a written journal since 1970. Over the years, he has also created more than 1,000 paintings about the size of a postcard that have all been catalogued.
“Most of them are quite small because I’ve tried to do them in a hurry,” added President Eyring. “The actual painting time can be as little as 20 minutes, but you have to then go do something else between the … washes.”
“It’s a balance between the things I know the Lord wants me to do and then some memories that I want to preserve,” he said. “It’s just trying to do only things that matter and then also being sure that you make a record of things that really matter that might, later on, be valuable.”
“President Eyring’s watercolors are personal and often capture his specific memories, deep feelings, familiar places, and loved ones — in a way that flattens time,” said Laura Allred Hurtado, global acquisitions art curator of the Church History Museum.
“There are three journals in the exhibition that give an example of the importance of record keeping in his work,” said Hurtado.
A close examination of President Eyring’s extensive watercolors and decades of journals reveals his gratitude and love for memories with family and friends. The exhibit also reflects his long-held commitment to remembering and recording the hand of God in his life.
The artwork is organized into seven major categories: portraits, the West, emotive landscapes, memory, religion, the ocean and travel. Many of President Eyring’s paintings are inspired by his wife, Kathleen.
The paintings in the exhibition include images of New England towns, the Cotswolds in England, Paris, missionaries in the field, a ship at sea and other subjects.
The museum has printed some of the paintings on postcards that are available at the end of the exhibit, and patrons are encouraged to send a postcard to someone they love.
This exhibition was originally organized and displayed last year by the Spori Gallery at Brigham Young University–Idaho.
President Eyring was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 1, 1995. He has served as a General Authority since April 1985.
The Church History Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.