During the holiday season of 2010, I was offered the chance meet the artist Liz Lemon Swindle and tour her studio. Not only do I have a deep love and appreciation for LDS art in all of its forms, but I also have a profound respect for the Prophet Joseph Smith.
And Liz Lemon Swindle’s paintings of Joseph Smith forever changed how Mormons saw the Prophet. Liz’s art showed the humanity of the Prophet. Her paintings depicted Joseph cradling his children, combing Emma’s hair, praying at Liberty Jail, and emotionally holding his lifeless brother. Liz’s art showed that we shouldn’t idealize or “wipe the sweat” from the Prophet’s brow. It showed us that while he was still a prophet, he wasn’t perfect.
Joseph Smith himself said, “Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him.”
On another occasion he stated: “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”
On that note, while I was touring Liz’s studio, I came across a remarkable, unfinished painting of Joseph Smith. The painting depicts the spirit of Joseph Smith at the feet of Jesus Christ, clearly illustrating the reverence that Joseph Smith had for the Savior.
To see more of Liz’s artwork, please visit: http://www.LizLemonSwindle.com