Heavenly Mothers Day: BYU Heavenly Mother Art Show, May 8, 2015

Guest Post by Katie Payne

Katie just graduated with an MFA from Brigham Young University, and is about to move across the continent to start a new adventure with her
husband. She loves art, dill pickle dip, and long walks. Her personal website is


My art over the last few years has tended to focus on my experience as a woman, especially as a Mormon woman. Most recently, I have created a large exhibition focusing on Heavenly Mother. The whole project started soon after I got married and moved to a foreign country with my husband. Unable to talk to my own mother on a regular basis, I felt that something was lacking. I started thinking more about my relationship with my mother, and since I had recently gone to the temple for the first time, about my relationship to the divine.


This thinking left me wondering about my Mother in Heaven. Where was she? Why didn’t we ever talk about her? I remembered a lesson in seminary where I was told that the reason we don’t talk about her is that she is so special and sacred. Just as we don’t talk about the sacred ceremonies of the temple, we should also refrain from giving too much attention to our sacred Mother in Heaven. I also heard that God didn’t want us to take her name in vain, so we couldn’t ever know her name.

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I started searching the Internet for information about Heavenly Mother. I read many blog posts and articles, anything I could find. When I went back to school for the year, I took a Mormon Women’s History class and based my research paper on the historical writings versus blog posts about Heavenly Mother. At this point, I decided to make an art piece about what I had learned—that there is information about Heavenly Mother and we can talk about her.  I hope to change, even if just a little, the idea that talking about Heavenly Mother is taboo.


It took me a while to decide how to best convey the information. I continued to read everything I could find that might help me in my quest. I found my answer after reading the mythologist Joseph Campbell’s book Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine. In the book he talks about how goddesses are often associated with labyrinths. Immediately I knew that was it. I would represent my journey through my art, allowing others to follow, in some small way, my personal path.


I ended up creating a labyrinth out of huge panels of white fabric, with various quotes and images embroidered with white thread.  The piece fills a large room, with over 200 feet of fabric walls in BYU’s Gallery 303 in the Harris Fine Art Center. It will be up until May 10th, with an open house on May 8th starting at 7 pm.


I invite all to come and see the exhibition, whether or not you can come to the open house. I want to get the word out to as many people as possible because I believe that this message is worth sharing.


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  1. I wish I could come see it! It sounds like a terrific exhibition, and I just love the focus on Heavenly Mother.

  2. What a beautiful installation! The one piece looks like it’s embroidered with white on white. Lovely! I’m sorry I won’t be in Provo.

  3. Colour me envy! I wish I was able to be in Provo for this, too!! It looks magnificent! Thank you for sharing this tiny bit with us!

  4. Dear Katie,
    You are confusing me. We have the same name, we are both artists, we have similar website URLs, and I am totally touched by your work. Can we be friends forever?
    -Katie Payne

  5. Thank you for this important and lovely art installation. I’ll be there on the 8th and I’ll look forward to meeting you. And thank you, Katie, for sharing your experiences and feelings about Heavenly Mother with us here at the Exponent. What a perfect contribution to the Heavenly Mother’s Day series.

  6. I have always looked at nature and thought that Heavenly Father may have been the engineer, but Heavenly Mother decided how large the forest should be, the meadow, which colors of flowers and how many should be indigenous to which areas. She was the one with the aesthetic strengths. He was the one with the building knowledge. Pretty good combination.

  7. Hi, I’m looking for an email contact for Katie Payne. Is there one available? I didn’t see any contact info on her website either. thx.

  8. Thank you for the wonderful comments!

    For those wondering about gallery hours, they are 9-4:30, but I am trying to get them extended. Of course, on the night of the reception, the hours go much later.

    Gallery 303 is the room just off to the right when you walk in the main doors of the HFAC, I don’t remember which theater is closest to it.

    My email is w dot kadie dot 88 at gmail dot com

    Thanks again!


    • On Friday May 8, the reception starts at 7, but the gallery is set to close at 4:30? Will the gallery be open between 4:30 and 7? I have a few friends wanting to go around 5:30 before another appointment at 7.

      Is there a website or link we can go to to get information on the gallery? Directions, parking, etc?


      • I am sorry the hours I gave were confusing! It will be open all day Friday. No closing between regular hours and the reception.

        The only map I can offer you is one of BYU campus. Go to
        Search for the HFAC, the gallery is to the right of the main entrance.

        The map should have parking marked on it as well.

  9. I believe quit simply that the reason HeavenlyMother isn’t mention is because our Heavenly Father holds her in such High regard that he doesn’t want to subject her either abstractly or by name to the degrading, insults and blasphemies our society now uses against him and our Savior Jesus Christ.

    • I’ve heard this before, Katherine. But the term “Elohim” is plural, so I always presumed — and was taught in an Institute class– that to pray to to pray to Elohim, both the Mother and the Father. (But we all know that Institute teachers are imperfect.) It always seemed odd to me that Heavenly Father would adopt mortal characteristics and manners in “protecting” Heavenly Mother as a gentleman would. As a God, it seems to me that she would be able to look after herself.

      Thank you for this comment. It isn’t an uncommon idea!

      • Thank you (Spunky) for speaking to this non-doctrinal folk belief. I have heard it expressed from many people in different forms, and I respect their choice to adopt this belief, but I don’t believe it myself for some of the reasons you cite. It does not make sense to me that an all-powerful, omnipotent and all-knowing, omniscient goddess would need to be protected from the puny blasphemies of mortals. But even more confusing is that She would allow this complete separation that exists from her children because she needs to be protected from them, and that our Father would perpetrate this separation for such a flimsy reason.

      • The ways of the next life are so unlike this life, when we come to an understanding you would understand why she is not talked about. It is not for the reasons you think but trust in God it is a wise thing. Search your heart and pray for revelation on these things, grow in understanding and it will be revealed. Joseph Smith said, everything I have experience you can too. I took that to heart and it is true, but to share it is not wise, it must be placed on our minds line upon line. go girl start climbing, it is so beautiful

      • That’s good advice Katheryne. I have my own thoughts and counsel about our Mother which I generally keep to myself in most forums, partly because I am not ordained to receive revelation for anyone but myself. And when people offer unsanctioned folk wisdom as if it was revelation, I appreciate it when someone calls out the distinction.

  10. Are you going to write a book? I have pondered this a lot too and would love some real and righteous info. Wish I could come!

  11. Wow, wish I could fly over, who will take pictures for me????
    I had my first introduction to MY Mother in Heaven in 1971,2,or 3 can’t remember when I went on BYU survival but any way….I went out on this adventure as a tom boy challenging myself against all the men I was raised with to be one of them. Had a hard time figuring out why I was a girl and why I couldn’t get excited about dating the way girls did. Never having a sister I asked in fervent prayer on my solo why I was a girl and how in the world I was suppose to handle it. That week while I was alone deep in the spirit , it was the most profound revelation I have ever received. I came home and insisted that I be called KATHERYNE instead of Muir and I started to wear feminine cloths much to the teasing of my family and brothers, and I have sought to become a queen ever since and it the most Devine thing I have ever encountered to know a true Queen… It saddens me to see women today Oh Jane Austin where are we today? Oh maybe I’ll pray to be a fly on the wall would love to see it. Come to Colorado!!!!

  12. Wish I was able to come see this. From the pictures it looks beautiful. I have had many of those same questions you have about our Heavenly Mother. Thank you for sharing.

  13. This is so beautiful! As someone outside of Utah, I am hungry for more pics and details of your findings! I second the idea of making a book. Thanks for sharing your gift.

    • I am in the middle of updating my home and grandbabies so I don’t know where my journal is just now, but give me the summer and I should be able to tell you a wonderful story thanks

  14. Two days isn’t nearly enough. I hope it is mobbed. I hope someone photographs it so the rest of us motherless children can experience it a little.

  15. I feel deep down that there is a special purpose in God not revealing anything to do with our Heavenly Mother. I think it is His way to protect her from blaspheme. After all you will never here her name taken in vain as we do God the Father and Jesus Christ. I think He loves her that much!

    • I wrote my comment prior to reading the above comments. I see that my feelings are shared by others although I have never spoken to anyone about this or heard this before. God gave us a commandment that we not take his name in vain and so this is apparently very important. It seems reasonable that He would not allow this to occur in regards to the woman He hold in the highest esteem. That does not mean that She is not involved with Her earthly children at all. But there of course is no doctrine on the matter. There are many things we will find out or remember later. I think the important thing is that everyone commenting on this website has similar feelings of awe for both our Heavenly Parents as well as our Savior.

      • So many things will be revealed now as we prepare for the second coming, but it must be merited upon are readiness to receive it. The full restoration has not occurred and we are in for the most glorious fulfillment as we make ourselves worthy with humility and righteousness, the measure of this creation of the restoration has only just begun, we need to prepare for glory in all its realms. Like the creation of this planet, when all things were in place then came Eve, there will be no difference. All things will require a celestial reign, we will get there, but we must be patient, and excited, and prepared in righteousness. God is the perfect husband as his priesthood ordains him to be so.

  16. I love what Katie said — we do know things about her and we can talk about her. Naturally we should treat the topic with sacredness (just as we should when discussing our Heavenly Father and our Savior), but lately I have felt such a desire to know her and such a feeling that she wants us to know her and know she loves us and is involved in our lives — that she and our father are united and a team with us. I am certain she wouldn’t want us to feel we can’t even mention or discuss her — what mother would send their children away on such a blind and scary journey and not want them reassured of her love for and closeness to them — particularly for us women who hope to one day be like her! Anyway, I think it no coincidence that “out of the blue” I came not only upon this article yesterday, but on this absolutely amazing and extensive article published in BYU Studies (an official BYU publication with gen. Authorities on the board) with a comprehensive overview of all our leaders have said on our dear Heavenly Mother. Such a happy and exciting thing! You can download the entire article for free here:

      • Katie, I hate to bug you but I’m dying to know if the exhibit is open tomorrow on Sunday. Is it open tomorrow? Or just today and Monday?

        • Techinically, it is closed on sunday. But, I know the building is open, and if you were to open the door to 303 and turn on the light, you could go through as long as you turned off the light when you were done.

          The show is coming down monday morning, so unless you get there super early, there will be nothing to see.

  17. I went to the exhibit yesterday afternoon. It was SO beautiful! I have been studying and pondering Heavenly Mother and the quotes and images in your artwork really affirmed my thoughts and feelings on the subject. As a unique doctrine, we should talk about both of our Heavenly Parents more freely. I don’t believe that we have to wait until the next life to understand the mysteries of God—we can seek them now and receive revelation that we need now. In doing so, I have been able to find answers to some of my questions regarding womanhood and Heavenly Mother and my relationship with both of my Heavenly Parents. In studying Her, I have come to love Him more and find less of a separation between our Heavenly Parents in how much we should love and follow Them. I believe that by seeking answers regarding our Heavenly Mother, our vision of our potential as women can be clarified and deepened. Thank you so much for this beautiful exhibit. I really, really appreciate your attention to this doctrine.

  18. I’m so bummed that I missed this! This show really needs to be extended. LDS artwork needs more depictions of women – thank you for giving that to us.

  19. My husband and I stopped by this afternoon (Sunday) and the doors were open and a few other people there too. The piece was so lovely and well done. Katie, you are to be commended for you thoughtful and beautiful work. I’m so glad I was able to see it. I agree with above I comments, I wish it was going to be up longer!

  20. This sounds absolutely fascinating! What a remarkable idea! I am so saddened to hear of this exhibits short life at the museum. What a shame to have put so much thought, effort, and heart into something and have it only be around for 2 days! I wish I would have had the chance to see this!

  21. Thank you so much for your time and talent! It was beautiful and thought provoking. I felt the Spirit and was honored to experience your amazing work. Thank you!

  22. I’m broken-hearted! I just read about it. What a beautiful piece. Perfect for mother’s day. It would have been worth the dangerous travel across the county line 😉

  23. I went to this exhibit and absolutely loved it. Is there anywhere I can go to find all the quotes you had up? It was a perfect collection and I can’t seem to find them anywhere!

    • The main place to find all the quotes, with the images I used for each panel, is my website. I take each panel, and go over where I found the quotes, and a little bit about what they mean to me.

      Additionally, this exhibit will be displayed again! Not in it’s original place, but at Writ and Vision in Provo. It is currently scheduled to be up in November for 3 weeks. I hope that many of the people who missed seeing it while it was at BYU will have an opportunity to see it in downtown Provo.

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