SMOFA hosts 33rd Annual Spiritual and Religious Art of Utah Show

r The Springville Museum of Art is celebrating thirty-three years of the Spiritual and Religious Art of Utah exhibition now until mid-January. Five hundred entries were submitted and only 186 were accepted into this prestigious show, which saw over 700 people in attendance at the opening reception in October.

Jenessa Van Buren, Associate Director of the museum, says the show has seen significant growth in participation in the last five or six years. “This exhibition always comes together with a special elegance and depth of beauty.” But a noteworthy change is the “increasing diversity in spirituality and interpretations of belief.”

The show hopes to acknowledge and celebrate the “shifting demographics and faith traditions our community is experiencing,” according to Van Buren.

Even though this is her third year participating, Springville artist Heather Holm says it never gets old being accepted into this show.  Her piece “Prayers for Rain,” a 55”x 48” oil on panel, is formidable and bright.

religious art

Because she has tried to paint more autobiographical pieces as of late, she thought a lot about her upbringing in southeastern Utah during the creation of this piece.

“I was surrounded by stark landscapes of red rock, sandstone, sagebrush, and turquoise skies. While this land is beautiful, it can also be harsh. My dad was a farmer and we constantly prayed for rain and held special fasts in order to receive moisture for our crops,” Holm says.

She used joint compound and thick modeling paste to add dramatic slashes of texture with a drywall knife. “I always try to leave flecks and smidgens of the underpainting to give a piece more depth and dimension. Stylistically, I strive for a ‘loose hand’ and a ‘tight eye.’”

Completing the piece in only three weeks was quite the feat for Holm, a mother of four. “At the time, we were building a new house and were renting a small apartment…I had the easel set up in the middle of the kitchen while the kids ran around it, occasionally bumping into it and smudging the paint.”

Holm has learned a lot through trial and error and the ups and downs of the art world and has this advice for those who are called to create: “There was a time when I was so unsure of myself and lacking in confidence. I felt there was no market for my work, and no one would be interested in what I had to offer. Boy was I wrong! There are endless opportunities for artists who are willing to put themselves out there, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. The trick is to work at it every day, be genuine, and to not waste precious art-making time on social media. Build up a body of work and enter as many shows/exhibits/galleries as you can.”

This year, jurors for the show were professional artist Willamarie Huelskamp and Museum Director Dr. Rita Wright. To see the list of awards and honorable mentions, visit  To learn more about Heather Holm’s art, visit,, or @heatherholmart on Instagram.

Chris Baird
Chris Baird
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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