Mormons and Popular Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon edited by J.Michael Hunter– coming soon to a university (but probably not a personal) library near you

praeger.

On December 12, I received my copy of the two-volume Mormons and Popular Culture in the mail.  know it’s not out until the 31st, but Praeger‘s the sort of classy joint that hooks the contributor up before the general population. I think this is the first time in my career I’ve received a copy of my work before the general public. . . .

Anyway, the two-volume work covers the gamut from film to football, with surveys on everything from comics to historical sites and closeups on folks from Stephenie Meyer to Glenn Beck. Some of the essays are versions of ones we know like Randy Astle’s work on cinema and some are utterly new. I mean—did you know about Rose Marie Reid? Continue reading “Mormons and Popular Culture: The Global Influence of an American Phenomenon edited by J.Michael Hunter– coming soon to a university (but probably not a personal) library near you”

My 2012 Mormon Arts Favorites

So this is not some snazzy, official list with criteria, rubrics, or voting committees. This is just my personal, gut-feeling-favorite Mormon Arts contributions that I have experienced this year. This also doesn’t mean that it was even published or produced in 2012… these are works/artists that I have personally encountered this year (or so).  So keep that in mind as I submit “Mahonri Stewart’s Personal Mormon Arts Favorites of 2012!” (Which may or may not become an annual tradition, depending on how lazy I am next year).

FAVORITE MORMON PLAY: MELISSA LEILANI LARSON’S MARTYRS’ CROSSING

MARTYRS' CROSSINGSo, beyond what I’ve seen my Zion Theatre Company produce this year, I haven’t had a chance to see much Mormon Drama in 2012 since I live in Arizona (kind of pathetic since I’m supposed to be the Mormon Drama expert around here). I can’t visit Utah on a whim to see the rare Mormon themed play that comes around (or, this year, New York with #MormonInChief!), but what I have done this year is read a bunch of older Mormon plays to finish my editing for Saints on Stage. Since one of those plays was produced again this year, I am choosing Martyrs’ Crossing, which has been getting great reviews at the Echo Theatre in Provo. I saw BYU’s production of the show years ago and read it again this year, and it’s as beautiful and vibrant as I remember it. Melissa is one of Mormonism’s best playwrights and, although I would  call Little Happy Secrets her best work so far, Martyrs’ Crossing is a personal favorite, much due to Mel’s beautiful writing and to my love for Jean d’Arc… who I may tackle a play about some day as well, although it would be pretty different than Mel’s take. Mel keeps beating me to the punch on stories that I love, including Jane Austen’s Persuasion and her upcoming adaptation of my all time favorite novel, C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces. Despite that personal frustration, I can’t but help look at these works and say, “Well, at least Mel wrote it, because it’s beautiful.”

FAVORITE MORMON PLAYWRIGHT: MATTHEW GREENE

Although I haven’t seen or read it, just the fact that Matthew Greene was able to get a Mormon themed play up in major a New York fringe festival is nothing to sniff at. I’ve read both positive and negative reviews for #MormonInChief,  but I admire Matthew (who was in BYU’s WDA Workshop with me several years ago) for really jumping into the New York theater scene and progressing the cause of Mormon Drama. He’s also got an upcoming play coming soon to Plan-B Theatre Company in Salt Lake City called Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea. Matthew is getting some real traction in his career as a dramatic writer and I believe it’s well deserved. Continue reading “My 2012 Mormon Arts Favorites”

Video from Knopf Book Cover Designer

I came across this video from TED Talks today, and thought I’d pass it on to those who read this. I think Chip Kidd makes some great points about book and book cover design in a quirky way which, if you like it, might even make you laugh. If you concentrate on what he has to say about design (instead of what he says about technology), then there is a lot of good material here.

Continue reading “Video from Knopf Book Cover Designer”

Make Known His Wonderful Works: The LDS international art competition and a failure of web-imagination

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I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is a big crossover between AMV readership and Thumblr (my Tumblr blog, natch). On Thumblr for the next few days, I’m posting art from the Church’s international art competition; theme this year, “Make Known His Wonderful Works.”

With each piece I post, I’m directing people to the competition’s website where they can view other pieces and vote for their favorite[s]. (I’m unclear on whether you are allowed to vote for multiple pieces.)

Notwithstanding the Church’s clear interest in social-networking Internet efforts (eg, mormon.org), this effort of mine is likely to prove an abysmal waste of time.

Behold:

This is a shot from one of my favorite pieces, a painting of Joseph Smith holding the baby Jesus, by Brian Kershisnik. If you’re having trouble making out the image, it’s because the Church website has broken the painting into several jpgs and by copying the image’s URL, this is all I was able to share. This is, I presume, to prevent people from stealing the images, I suppose? Continue reading “Make Known His Wonderful Works: The LDS international art competition and a failure of web-imagination”

“Something Fresh Out of Something Stale”

Or, Mashing Up MoLit Redux: Redux

This past September, in response to Ken’s post about mashing up Mormon literature and the purposes behind the repurposing of language and literature, in general, Ardis asked a question that turned my wheels a-spinnin’. Asked she, “[W]hat’s the point of being deliberately, unrelentingly unoriginal” by taking others’ work, repurposing it, and sending it out into the world? “Why is suppressing the urge toward originality,” as she assumes mash-up arists do, “more conducive to self-expression than the effort to, you know, actually be self-expressive?”

Seuss-style, I respond to Ardis’ question with three things (I was going to add my comment to the post itself, but my response grew beyond comment-length; hence, this):

Thing One: I don’t think it’s productive to argue that all mash-ups or remixes suppress the urge toward originality and self-expression. I’m thinking here of seven instances—four specific and three more general, though even as I think I stir up more instances—in which artists/creators have, to various degrees, remixed different aspects of culture or other preexisting materials in order to create something new: Continue reading ““Something Fresh Out of Something Stale””