Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kansas City Temple Muralist

Notes taken by Valerie Anderson

Michael Albrechtsen presented at the Platte City Stake Women’s Conference on Saturday March 3rd, 2012.
He is the muralist for the Kansas City Temple.

His background:
Raised in Bountiful, Utah
Served a mission in Thailand
He started to do art because it was a desire in him, plus there was mention of it in his patriarchal blessing
Master’s Degree in Art from Utah State University
Upon graduation, recruited by Hallmark to work.  Moved to Lenexa, Kansas.
Member of the Lenexa Stake
Has two paintings in other temples:  Finland and Sweden
This was his first mural.  Ever.

He is bound by legal contract to not show pictures of the mural, architecture features, symbolism or discuss it’s elements.  He said the primary reason is that if that information is released early before an open house, with graphic enhancements so easily performed by so many people today, they could alter the images or text in a negative way, thus dissuading people to attend the temple.

He did say that he would share some of his other work that perhaps we might remember when we visit the KC Temple.

Notes from his talk:
The Church has been moving back to murals in the temples for the past 10-15 years.
Which temples get them is based on prayer, financial standing for the time, etc…
When a temple is designed, the interior is not always designed or finished when it is blue printed.  The interior comes along later in the building process.

There are many aspects to “The Mural” as he called it.  The underline message he wanted to be very clear about is that he was not the true artist.  He was allowed to participate but the true artist was Heavenly Father leading through inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost.  He was just the hand that put on the paint.

The Church has always supported the arts. 
Music in the church has always generated a lot of discussion and attention.
We cannot use visual arts to gain attention for the opening of a meeting or blessing the sacrament.  But visual arts do carry a spirit and have their own place in the church.
The murals in the Salt Lake Temple were somewhat modeled after the concept of the Sistine Chapel.
In the late 1800’s, the church sent 5 artists to Paris for what are known as “Art Missions.”  There they learned from master painters so that they could return to Utah to paint the murals for the temples.  The reason they were sent to Europe is because these artists did not have access to great teachers and learning in the frontier west.  The missionaries used to write back to Utah from France asking if the temple was almost ready to be painted….and they hoped not…..because they weren’t ready to paint it.

Brother Michael felt the same.  He said painting the mural was a very daunting task and he was very scared.
He calls it his “American Idol” moment.
He was not asked to even paint it until AFTER Angel Moroni was already placed, in March of 2011.
He put paint to canvas on July 1, 2011 and it took six months.

He said that he was in SLC at the Church Administration Building when he was offered the commission.  After the meeting, he went outside and sat in the grounds outside the building.  He always carries a little sketch pad and took less than 10 minutes to sketch out a small drawing.  He kept it, and decided he needed more guidance from the Church.  He said he asked about details (which seasons would they like, what elements like vegetation, animals, etc…) He said he was surprised but they agreed to anything he wanted to do.  “Pray and you will now what goes into it.  You will receive the guidance and inspiration you’ll need.”  He had complete autonomy to do what he felt to be right.

What surprised him is that after he took months to study and prepare what the mural looked like, in the end it was basically a very close finished version of his original 10 minute gut drawing he did that day in SLC.

He said that when he was selected to be the muralist, the church showed him the other concept drawings of some other artists that had also applied for the job.  His submission and another artist submission that was not selected was almost the exact same.  Same elements, same composition “to a T.”    It confirmed to him that what he had created was what was supposed to be painted.

He likes to draw from his personal experiences and travels for his inspiration of his work.

He then showed us a few paintings on canvas he had brought with him as well as some projected slides of paintings. 

He said the most important thing he could stress is how everyone has a gift.  It is our responsibility to find out what it is, work hard at it, and seek it out in fullness.  As we develop the gift the best we can, physically, we then should work to add our spiritual gifts to it.  The combination of the two is what gives us power.  If we spiritually prepared He will give us the talent enhancement that we need.  Plus our connection to Heavenly Father will grow.  God will make up the difference for what we lack (as an artist or otherwise).

It was a treat to listen.  A truly humble brother.


1 comment:

Lesta said...

Awesome! We need to have him come to our ward or stake and do a presentation!
Thank you so much for sharing this!


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