Photo Essay

Exhibit Highlights Women in the Scriptures

Mormon Female Artist Featured at Conference Center

Visitors to the Conference Center in Salt Lake City will see 11 new paintings of courageous women from the scriptures on the west side of the plaza level. The oil paintings are the works of artist Kathleen Peterson, who lives on an 80-acre farm with her husband in central Utah’s rural Spring City. Peterson, the mother of four grown children and a grandmother, paints in her home studio.

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Her latest paintings tell the stories of strong women from the Bible, including Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman at the well and Eve.

Peterson offers her insight into some of the women highlighted in her paintings. “I just pictured the scene of the story about Mary, Jesus’ mother. I tried to illustrate what it seemed like to me. First I read the scripture,” said Peterson, describing her process to create the paintings. “I actually pray all the time before I paint.”

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Eve (Moses 2-4): “Once they came out of the garden I think their life was changed forever because they had children,” said Peterson. “But I thought she must have been such an amazing individual to really grasp that concept of what she was doing when she partook of the fruit. She was cast out of the garden, but it was the only way that they could really experience life.”

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Miriam and the pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:2-10): “That was kind of a fun one,” Peterson quipped. “I pictured her as a young girl hiding in the bushes and then being brave enough to approach the pharaoh’s daughter saying, ‘I can find a nurse maid for this baby.’ She was intending for her own mother, Moses’ mother, to be the nurse maid for this baby. I just thought it was a really nice story.”

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Five daughters with Moses (Numbers 26:33; 27:1-11; 34:14-15): The sisters told Moses their family had been faithful and longed for an inheritance in the promised land. “Women did not have rights like that at that time,” said Peterson of the women whose father died before they could inherit land. “It was kind of a big change in Jewish law at that time. It was pretty brave of them to try and work that out.” They inherited a parcel of land near the Jordan River.

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Deborah (Judges 4-5): Peterson called Deborah a “particularly strong woman” who “would sit under a palm tree and people would come to her with their questions. She was a prophetess too. She was asked to lead an army to free her people. She actually donned armor and went to battle led an army to battle to freedom.”

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Esther and the king (Esther 1-10): “I tried to make her very beautiful and queenly,” described Peterson. Esther was the queen of Persia and a Jew. “She took a great risk exposing her religion. She could have been quiet and just stayed anonymous, but I think it took a lot of courage for her to ask at the risk of her own life.”

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Widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44): The widow decided to pay her tithing. “A lot of people have painted that scene,” said Peterson. “It’s an impressive story. I tried to do her simple and plain putting symbolic rich people around her who had a lot and were proud of what they had, but she gave all she had, which was huge.”

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Woman with an issue of blood (Luke 8:43-48): “I pictured her being lost in the crowd, but she also must have been a woman of great faith,” said Peterson, describing what happened when the woman saw Jesus. “She touched the hem of His garment. It must have been terrifying for her for Him to turn around and say, ‘Who touched me?’"

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Mary and Martha with Jesus (Luke 10:38-42): “I always identify with both of them,” remarked Peterson. “I’m a worker bee, and if I have guests I’m always in the kitchen working, so I can identify with that. I think you can lovingly serve and listen, so I tried to make them both equal in the way they were showing respect.”

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Woman at the well (John 4:6-30): “Jesus honored the Samaritan woman not only by asking for water but speaking to her of living water,” said Peterson. “Jesus elevated women by treating them with honor and kindness.”

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Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18): Peterson said this was her first drawing of Jesus Christ and one of her favorite paintings. “I think it’s amazing that she was the first one to see Jesus,” she said. “He elevated women to a state that I don’t know that anybody else did at the time. I just thought there must have been a very tender relationship between them of devotion and I tried to show her sorrow. She thought He was gone. I don’t think anybody fully understood the Resurrection at that time.”

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“Painting is kind of a prayer or meditation for me,” explained Peterson. “I paint about integrity of life. It all has meaning to me, so hopefully it has meaning to those who see it too.”

For more information on the artist, visit Peterson’s website or view her video profile that is featured in the Church’s I’m a Mormon campaign.






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