Full Artist Statement

Fall From Eden; Leaving the Faith

2020 BFA Artist Statement

This Bachelor of Fine Arts Exhibition titled, ‘Fall from Eden: Leaving the Faith’ explores the ways my identity as a woman has transformed as I step away from the LDS church.  This body of work reflects the confusion, disarray, and discomfort experienced during this transition. Just as Eve left the garden of Eden, I left the blissful security that religion offered me. No longer did I know exactly who God was, or who I was, or who I was supposed to be. As my doubt in the church increased, it was as if the solid ground beneath me turned to quicksand; I was swimming to find solid ground again. Questions that used to be easy to answer became more complicated. Who am I, why am I here, and what am I supposed to do in this life? Is there a God? And, if there is, do they have specific desires for me? Without the clear guidelines that the church defined, confusion ensued. Was I lost, or was I freed?

As a faithful woman in the church, my role was prescribed to me by the words of holy men. Old scriptures found in the Bible reinforce traditional roles of men and women, from the very conception of Eve. Created to be “an help meet”, Eve was to be a companion to her husband (Genesis 2:18). According to The Family: A Proclamation to the World, published by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church in 1995, “God’s commandment for his children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” My divine calling as a woman was to be a mother and raise my children righteously. Additionally, I was to follow my husband as he righteously presided over me and the family. My divine role as a woman was to fulfil God’s commandments to Eve. This was reinforced by sacred covenants I made in the temple. By fulfilling these commandments, I would be able to live with God and my family forever in the next life and create new worlds with my husband. What a beautiful plan this was!

The church prescribed role of women was one I closely aligned myself with. I wanted nothing more than to fulfil what I thought was my highest calling as a woman. It was a more traditional view of women, with an emphasis on purity, motherhood, obedience, and family. I justified any sexism because I believed it was within God’s divine order. This was the life I was dedicated to. As my faith weakened, the framework of my whole world shifted. This exhibition demonstrates my shifting view of God and myself as a woman. It reflects the process of deconstructing my values and identity.

Leaving the church was my forbidden fruit, I thought that if I left the church, I would experience a spiritual death far worse than any physical death. Just like Eve, I took a bite of the forbidden fruit. I left my Eden; the peaceful and stagnant life that the church offered me. Perhaps, it was the enticements of the devil that made me believe that I shall not “surely die”(Genesis 3:4). Or perhaps, my eyes were opened to truths that lay beyond the boundaries of religion.

In the local Utah community – which is largely made up of members of the LDS church – it is extremely taboo to criticize or openly leave the church. Often ex-members are perceived as lazy, offended, angry, amoral, selfish, or ignorant. As taboo as it may be, this is actually why I must create this work. It is time we question our assumptions about people who leave. There are many good, honorable people leaving not only the LDS church, but religion on a broader scale. The journey of leaving religion is not the easy way out. More often, it is a difficult and painful transition. I am just one of many who have lost faith, and I am giving voice to myself and others like me.

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