Artist Spotlight – Tiare Terrill on her cover for The Book of Mormon for the Least of These

Spotlight is a new feature on the Exponent II blog to shine light on individuals or projects in the world of Mormon Feminism outside of book reviews. This is part two of a spotlight of Dallas-based artist and mother of five, Tiare Terrill. You can read part one here. In part two, we discuss her cover for The Book of Mormon for the Least of These, Volume 1, by Fatimah Salleh and Margaret Olsen Hemming.

Q: How did you come to do the cover for The Book of Mormon for the Least of These?

A: Margaret Olsen Hemming [one of the co-authors of the book] reached out to me. It was one of the years that we were building our house, sending our daughter on a mission, and one of our boys was in his senior year. That year I passed on a lot of work. But Margaret contacted me and said that she found me online and that they really love how I play with dark and light and asked about using my painting.

Q: Of course your painting ended up on the cover, but was that an easy decision for you?

A: I wasn’t familiar with Margaret when she first approached me, and I was like, I have to tell you, I have a deep testimony of The Book of Mormon, and I have to feel good about this. I asked her to tell me about their project and the tone of the book. She said she would send me the talk that was sort of where her journey with this book began. She talked about the injustices and the racial undertones in The Book of Mormon, and as she has worked it out for herself, she has felt like the book is an opportunity to address those issues head on, instead of just brushing it under the rug or not discussing it or nor dealing with it. It was an opportunity to look at it for what it was and develop some compassion and empathy.

After I read her talk, and talked to [my husband] David about it, and he was supportive, I did a little bit of praying. I’m a very spirit-led person, and I’m that way with everything. Something just has to feel right. With homes we buy or other big decisions, I just need to feel like I’m on the right path and I’m doing the right thing. I felt like I could trust Margaret as soon as I read her point of view and what the book was about. I felt good about it and really honored that they were interested in me being part of the project. And it’s a great book. I loved it.

Q: Margaret told you she reached out because they were drawn to your play with dark and light. That seems to be a prominent theme in your work. Can you tell me about that?

A: So much of my life, I’ve experienced these moment of peace and happiness and joy, and usually that has come after some really hard things. So I really believe that as we evolve personally and as a people, that it is through these moments of darkness that I’ve grown the most. When I’ve gone through things that are really hard, like some of my experiences growing up, and like we all do in life, it’s when I come out on the other side that I can actually appreciate the light.

“Swept Up” by Tiare Terrill

Q: The painting on the cover of the book is called “Swept Up.” What inspired you to produce this painting?

A: Our political climate has become increasingly divisive and downright ugly. People were losing their sense of humanity and it was getting more and more difficult to feel hopeful amidst so much hate and vitriol. I found myself asking God how I was supposed to raise kind humans who care about others, let alone the planet, and their impact in this world that has become so cynical and dark. I went to my easel as I usually do when I need to work something out and “Swept Up” just came out of me. The answer to that mother’s prayer: You love them. . . HARD. You pour so much love into them so that they can pour that goodness and light into the world, and then you have faith knowing that God has a plan for each of us and it will all work out in the end. After all, we might act ridiculous at times but in the end, we’re more alike than different and most people are inherently good.

Q: That sounds like it was a very powerful experience. I appreciate you letting me take up so much of your time. Is there any last message you want to share?

A: A sister who spoke in our last stake conference said, “We might not be able to control the chaos in the world but we can contribute to the goodness in it.” I believe there is so much good in the world if we just look for it. I feel strongly that if we can pour love into this next generation, they will be equipped to spread that goodness and light into our communities across the globe. So we keep fighting the good fight and show up and love hard and walk the walk on that whole love-thy-neighbor thing. The world needs it. I need it. We all need it.

You can find Tiare on her website or follow her on Instagram @tiareterrillartstudio

Katie Ludlow Rich
Katie Ludlow Rich
Katie Ludlow Rich is a writer and independent scholar focused on 19th and 20th-century Mormon women's history. Email at katierich87 at gmail .com


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