Angels around us

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Drawing in sacrament meeting is a typical children’s activity, but for Annie Henrie, drawings weren’t limited to scribblings in coloring books.

Henrie’s father, Cary, would draw half of a picture and would have her match it so it would be complete. As she grew up, Henrie said it was wonderful having her father’s critical eye around as she developed her art. Cary Henrie is an artist whose work is collected by the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Christy Walton. Annie’s work has been displayed in galleries from Oregon to Chicago, and has been featured at Deseret Book and the BYU Bookstore. This year, one of her pieces was purchased by the Church.

“I loved it because it was a challenge to be as good as him,” she said.

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Annie Henrie is an aspiring LDS artist
The younger Henrie entered various art competitions growing up and realized she had talent when she started winning. Her awards culminated in winning the Sterling Scholar Award in art as a high school senior. Entering BYU as a freshman, Henrie had an idea of the art she wanted to focus on, but it wasn’t until she took a trip to Italy as a junior that she found her true passion.

“I found the Catholic art there powerful and meaningful in portraying Christ, His resurrection, life after death — or the most important things we can know in this life,” she said. “Fra Angelico’s ‘Annunciation’ was one of my inspirations. There was just a real peace to his art. It was just something so sweet and sincere and beautiful, and I wanted to make art like that for my church.

Her experience gave her a new purpose as an artist.

“I’ve seen a lot of art, contemporary and non-contemporary, but his art was so beautiful, and it made me want to make a difference,” she said. “It made me question myself: ‘What do I want to leave?’ I needed to do something that had real meaning to me.”

Henrie also draws her inspiration from people she talks to, and the experiences they share with her. Angels are often featured in her paintings; she said God answers prayers through people, and in a way they become “our messengers,” ” our angels.”

“I’ve never had a giant manifestation, but I’ve had people answer my prayers in very beautiful and inspired ways, whether through friends, family or random people,” she said. “I wanted to make a tribute to them. I also thought it was a really cool idea, because we’re known as Latter-day Saints. I wanted to to show how good people can be–our potential. Angels are always around us.”

Cary Henrie said it has been edifying for him to see how his daughter’s art has developed and how she has evolved to become such a formidable artist.

“She is certainly influencing me a ton, so that has been really gratifying,” he said. “The art world and criticism go hand-in-hand, but it’s hard, especially for a dad. That’s been a very unique experience at raising a good artist.”
Linda Howard, art conceirge for the Deseret Book flagship store in Salt Lake City, said the company has been so impressed with her art that they asked her to do three originals which will be sent to each of Deseret Book’s 38 stores. Howard said Annie’s work is new and fresh.
“The colors that she chooses are visually very appealing,” she said. “She also uses texture, and mixed media. It’s not just oil. It’s a new perspective.”
“There’s always a deep symbolic essence to her work, and it’s beautiful to look at,” she said.
J. Kirk Richards, a well-known name in Church art, said Annie has the ability to connect with people on a more inward and spiritual level. Her color choices and form, he said, are beautiful to many.
“People connect with the themes she chooses to address,” he said. “Themes like the spiritual nature of family relationships, heavenly beings and divine intervention, and stories of Jesus. Annie has a gift for combining beauty of form and idea.”
 Richards said Annie has the potential of becoming a recognized artist for many Latter-day Saint families.
“If she continues at the rate she’s going, over the next 50 years, she could leave a legacy comparable to [reknowned LDS artist] Minerva Teichert,” he said.
For Annie Henrie, art is a way of visualizing non-visual experiences and serves as a reminder when we see it in our homes and churches.

“We are deeply impacted by the things we see and art helps us to solidify our faith — the image we would like to attain — and hope for miracles and peace now and in the future,” she said.

She said art is sometimes frustrating, but satisfaction comes from seeing the art on the wall.

“The real wonder is when you hang it on a wall and you can get away from it and see that there are good things in it, because when you are painting it, you see a mess,” she said. “When you hang it, there’s a real power to it. You are struggling the whole time to make this image, and then you look at it and see the power God has given it, what he does after I’ve put in a lot of work.”

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