October 20th, 2009 by Menachem Wecker
I first connected with Matt Poulton, founder and director of social marketing at www.Latterdailyart.com, on Twitter (his handle: @latterdailyart. You can read more about Latterdaily art on this page. Poulton stresses something that should be obvious, but I’ve added it just in case, “The answers I give below are my personal thoughts, beliefs, and feelings and do not in any way represent those of other LDS artists or the LDS Church in any way.”
MW: What was the inspiration for creating Latterdailyart.com?
MP: The inspiration to build and launch Latterdailyart.com is two-fold. While growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, I worked for a very well respected commercial photographer by the name of Steve Tregeagle. I worked in his custom photo lab when I was a teenager and saw first-hand how hard he worked to deliver high quality photography for all of his clients. Steve is an artist who is extremely meticulous and is widely known for the quality of his work. The Graphics Department for the LDS Church came across Steve’s work and commissioned him to take a number of photos of LDS Temples. Over the years, Steve’s photos have appeared on Church postcards and posters, as well as in Church magazines and other Church literature. Needless to say, Steve has years of experience capturing gorgeous photographs of many of the Church’s temples and historical sites.
This experience as a young teenager, mixed with my love for religious art inspired me to build Latterdailyart.com. I feel the site has great potential in helping to discover many talented artists and photographers who just need a little extra help getting their work in front of the right audience. I hope that Latterdailyart.com will provide this much needed LDS Art community and spotlight.
MW: How do you define LDS art? Is there more to it than just art made by Mormons?
MP: Personally, I define LDS art as art that portrays the thoughts, feelings, history, and doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The LDS Church has a rich history of hardship, persecution, pioneer heritage, hard work, exodus, love, and commitment to God, country, and family.
But what constitutes LDS Church art? That itself is a somewhat complicated question since the LDS culture is world-wide and members come from more than 130 different countries. It includes photography and artwork of temples, landscapes, and portraits from cultures all over the world.
Does it have to deal exclusively with Church themes? Personally, I feel inspired spiritually when I see art of nature, cool landscapes, or influential people that have impacted the thoughts and beliefs of the world. Many such people either have belonged to the church or have ties with the church and should be recognized for their hard work and achievement through the medium of art.
MW: To what extent do LDS artists draw upon Old and New Testament narratives?
MP: The Old and New Testament narratives form a very important part of the foundation of LDS art. LDS artists have placed major emphasis on portraying God’s dealings with his ancient people in Jerusalem. Every aspect of the Savior Jesus Christ’s works have been displayed in LDS art. From the birth of the Baby Jesus to His glorious resurrection, LDS artists have captured these New Testament stories.
Well known LDS artists have painted the Savior in the temple as a young 12 year old boy speaking with the priests and teachers. They have captured His humble and submissive baptism by John the Baptist. His many miracles of teaching the people of Jerusalem, speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, raising Lazarus from the dead, washing the feet of His apostles, standing and testifying before Pilate, being crucified on the cross, and finally appearing to his apostles as the glorified and resurrected Christ have all been beautifully displayed on the LDS canvas.
MW: Is most LDS art figurative, or is there also an abstract movement?
MP: The majority of LDS art is figurative. There are others though that choose to use abstract movement very effectively to communicate their messages. One such artist, Stephanie K. Northrup, uses abstract movement to capture the beauty of LDS beliefs in shapes and contours that demonstrate great spiritual emotion. Stephanie’s work may be found on her website.
MW: To what extent are non-Mormons expressing an interest in your site, and in LDS art in general?
MP: So far, we’ve received traffic from the LDS culture. We do hope for and invite all artists and photographers to participate in the art contest as we feel religious art shares many common themes regardless of any specific religious affiliation. We hope to further promote the talent of the LDS art culture, but we do invite all to participate on the site.
MW: Is Latterdailyart.com a full-time job for you, or is it something you do on the side?
MP: Currently, Latterdailyart.com is a very satisfying and fun side job for me. Aside from my love for the site and the LDS Art Contest, I work as a statistical analyst for a statistical modeling firm.
MW: You write a blog, and use Twitter, Facebook, Photobucket, and Flickr. Do you think there is a social/new media trend in the LDS community?
MP: Yes, there is a large social media trend in the LDS culture. There are hundreds of blogs written by members of the church and thousands of members participating in the major online media forums. The Church has made an official invitation to its members to get online and help others learn about our beliefs. We do so with great desires to share and also to learn about others’ cultures and beliefs. Some of my very close friends come from the Muslim religion/culture. We have a blast discussing the differing doctrines and religious cultures with which we have lived. These relationships have been deeply satisfying for me personally and I am grateful for all I’ve learned from my Muslim friends, their faith, and their religious art as it is some of the most detailed and gorgeous religious art in the world.
MW: Do you think there is a distinction between LDS art and LDS kitsch?
MP: Yes, I do think there is a distinction between the two. Obviously, mediocre LDS art can be found in many, many locations both on and offline, but there are some highly talented and educated LDS artists whose work (regardless of whether it be religious or not) should be recognized for its purity and sophistication.
MW: I see you are hiring a blogger. Is that position still open? If any readers are interested in applying, what do they need to know?
MP: Yes, the position for a blogger is still open. If readers are interested in learning more about the position, they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. A strong background in art history, a love for creative writing, and an educated background in LDS/religious art are preferred.