BYU student celebrates Heavenly Mother through art

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Two of the art pieces from graduate student Katie Payne’s exhibit celebrating the idea of a Heavenly Mother. The exhibit was displayed in the Harris Fine Arts Center.

Tears fell down the cheeks of women and men as they walked through a labyrinth of white drapes hanging from the ceiling. For some they were tears of gratitude and joy; for others tears of frustration and pain.

Embroidered on the white drapes were quotes about the idea of a Heavenly Mother.

BYU fine art master’s student Katie Payne decided to create an exhibit about Heavenly Mother for her final project. The exhibit was displayed in the Harris Fine Arts Center for two weeks.

Payne said she lived in Canada right after she was married and found it more difficult talk to her mother. She began to think about the idea of a Heavenly Mother. “It all started with wanting my mom,” she said.

Initially Payne said she was curious, but that curiosity grew as she began to do research.

“My mother never taught me about Heavenly Mother, but through her actions she showed me,” Payne said.

Payne said she created the labyrinth design because it represented life’s journey and chose the white color so it would be a sacred place for people to come reflect. She purposely made it hard to see because she wanted it to show that “the information is there; we just have to look.”

Heather Tolley, 27, attended the exhibit and said she felt like some of the quotes in the exhibit were “very silencing” while others were heartwarming.

“It highlighted that longing to know her and talk openly about her,” Tolley said referring to Heavenly Mother.

Tolley had an alcoholic mother who left her family when she was young. Her father had a lot of relationships, and when they ended she would never hear from the women again. This resulted in what she called a “mother wound.”

As she walked through the exhibit she said knowing she has a Heavenly Mother but still not knowing how to access her creates a painful parallel.

Because Tolley did have the influence of a kind and loving father, she solidified her relationship with a Heavenly Father and then began to search for more.

Jessica Samuelson, a friend of Tolley who also attended the exhibit, agreed that Payne captured the conflict of holding something sacred and silent versus sharing spiritual experiences.

Samuelson said having a sense of wonder about Heavenly Mother keeps people engaged.

“Staying in touch with the magicalness,” she said. “I want to teach my children that it’s OK to ask questions, and I want them to feel safe and comfortable.”

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