Popular culture artist Matt Page is showcasing his artwork in the L. Tom Perry Special Collections section of the Harold B. Lee Library.
As a young child, Page sat at the table drawing more than watching TV. When he attended the University of Utah, he found drawing to be interesting and knew he could excel at it. He decided to major in graphic design.
“I see art as a way to express myself, a way to celebrate and share different cultures,” Page said, adding that his cultural upbringing influences his art. He grew up in the LDS Church and popular culture. So in his art, he combines the two into one. Page’s artwork, in an exhibit titled “Mormon on the Arts,” combines Pokémon, Star Wars and other popular characters with biblical figures and other LDS themes.
“Some people may think it is odd to combine the church and popular culture, but not for me because it is who I am,” Page said.
Page attends art conventions and researches the populations of LDS attendees to specify the artwork he showcases.
He said his artwork is most impactful to people who know both LDS and popular culture.
“(Page’s artwork) brought a humor to modern Mormon art,” said Allyson Odem, a viewer of Page’s artwork in the HBLL exhibit. “I was laughing the whole time.”
Page said some people view his work as sacrilegious and take offense, but he has no intention of being sacrilegious or disrespectful.
“I go to church and have no ill will,” Page said. “I am just having fun with our culture, and I am embracing it.”
His primary audience is Latter-day Saints with a knowledge of popular culture. Page said if he shared his artwork with his parents, they would understand the LDS side but not the popular culture. Other the other hand, Page said if shared his artwork with someone who understands popular culture but little about Latter-day Saints, they would not understand.
“We (as LDS people) kinda have learned to laugh about ourselves. We can laugh and joke and know it’s okay to be funny and lighthearted about life,” said exhibit attendee, Zoralei Boysen.
Trevor Alvord is the exhibit curator who specializes in 21st century Mormonism and Western Americana. He said Page’s artwork is available to the community after July in the Special Collections. Alvord organized the exhibit and even has a personal collection of Page’s artwork.
“I really like Matt’s zombies because if you thought about what a Mormon zombie would look like, I think he captures it,” Alvord said. “It looks happy and not necessarily frightening.”
Page said he enjoys combining pop-art and LDS themes into his art because he likes to make people laugh.
“I want people to laugh and feel like they know the punchline to an inside joke,” Page said.