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Museum patrons cast their ballots for favorite art

"Be It Unto Me"

"The Gift and Power of God"

"Lessons among the Leaves"

The Museum of Church History and Art has announced the winners of its Visitors' Choice Awards in the Fifth International Art Competition.

More than 4,000 visitors cast their ballots over the past four months for their favorite works of art in the museum's art competition, "The Book of Mormon, Its History and Message." The winning artworks are among 135 pieces by Latter-day Saint artists from 32 countries created for the triennial competition. The art will remain on display until Sept. 4.

Receiving the Visitors' Choice Awards, which include a $500 cash award, are Liz Lemon-Swindle, Orem, Utah, for her oil painting, "Be It Unto Me;" Jodi G. Warner, South Jordan, Utah, for a patchwork and applique quilt titled "Lessons among the Leaves;" and Simon Dewey, Maidstone, Kent, England, for an acrylic painting called "The Gift and Power of God."

Sister Lemon-Swindle's work depicts Mary holding the newborn Jesus in a scene described by Book of Mormon prophet Alma. Sister Warner's quilt illustrates two dozen Book of Mormon stories in blocks surrounding a tree of life and a figure of the Savior. Exhibit jurors had earlier honored her quilt with a Purchase Award. In his painting, Brother Dewey shows Joseph Smith seated at a table deep in thought as he translates the Book of Mormon from a set of gold plates.

Runners-up in the balloting were Eric Wilson of Sandy, Utah, whose bronze sculpture, "Behold, I Am Moroni," won a Merit Award in the youth section of the exhibit; Douglas Harkey of Flagstaff, Ariz., who used polarizing filters and a rotating background to create a piece titled "The Director unto Light and Everlasting Life;" and Steven Neal, of Pendleton, Ore., whose sculpture "The Price of Liberty" linked ancient and modern military actions in the defense of freedom.

According to Museum Director Glen M. Leonard, attendance since the competition opened has jumped 35 percent over the same months last year.

"Visitors become enthralled with the varied styles and treatments of the competition's subject by artists of differing backgrounds and approaches," he said. "As usually happens, our visitors pick a different slate of winners than the formal jury."

When the competition display closes, the museum will install three new exhibitions. They will open on Sept. 23 and continue through next summer. The new offerings will include "The Living Christ," featuring artwork about the Savior; "Valiant Pioneer Children," an interactive exhibit for children; and "In the Footsteps of Joseph Smith: Photographs of Early Church Historic Sites," highlighting historic images by George Edward Anderson and contemporary views by Scott Facer Proctor.

The museum is located across the street from the Salt Lake Tabernacle at 45 North West Temple. Admission is free.

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