Sunday, September 18, 2011

ninety-second visit: Sept 18th 2011 Latter-day Saints Movement (Mormonism)

1:00pm sunday
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

250 N Dithridge, Pittsburgh PA 15213

north oakland

I have a friend who is a fabulous painter, a practicing Mormon, and a pretty remarkable person. His name is Ryan and we attended grad school together, fine arts. I have not talked to him in a while; he's a half-day's drive away. But I thought of him throughout this visit.

Because of conversations I have had, I was under the assumption that, as a non-Mormon, I would not be permitted to enter the building, let alone attend a service. To clarify: as I understand, this would be true in the case of entering a Mormon Temple. The building I attend today technically is an Institute. I had stopped by a couple of weeks ago and spoke with Virginia (a member) as well as Sister Marshall, who both insisted that I am certainly welcome to do both (enter and attend). Virginia even invites me to stay for lunch that day, served at the conclusion of the class she has just attended. But unfortunately I have to run, promising to return for a service before long.

And so I return. I choose a small pew for my lone self. Within minutes Alexia approaches me and invites me to sit with her and her husband. Asks if I am visiting. Learns about this project. Does not stop asking about my dress until she has to, when the service starts.

It seems that this services is specifically for young adults and young adults with young families. The children sit with their parents throughout the entire hour. Moms or dads occasionally pop up and leave the room carrying a vocal wee one, but it's pretty remarkable how well-behaved the youngest members are.

"What struck you about the service?," my hair stylist asks me this week when in for a trim.
That the speakers and readers during the service are congregants. A single leader does not dominate.
That each speaker is moved to tears during their talk, each of them offering thoughts and stories on the topic of friendship.
That none of the speakers seem very nervous.
That so many of them studied art history (as was Ryan's undergrad degree) and others are musicians, composers.
That tiny cups of water are passed for communion, as Alexia kindly confirms my understanding of the meaning of this portion of the service.
The fact that those with families rooted in this belief share common ancestors, is not something that is not entirely unapparent. Or maybe there are other reasons that these members look like they share oneness.

I assume that I will feel too self conscious to draw during this service. But I surprise myself.

When the service ends, Alexia and I talk a bit more about my dress. She wants to know how she can find out when and where I will be showing the work. This reminds me and I mention to her, that I was not able to get emails of those who had invited me here. She pulls up Virginia's email on her iPhone. No back seat for hospitality here. Thank you.

Count of worshipers wearing Steelers garb while worshiping:
1 worshiper in a black suite with a yellow shirt and black tie.
(I saw like 13 people wearing Steelers garb while I was driving
between visits today, but I guess that can't count.)
Running Total for the project: 28 (to date)


  1. Becky, your artwork on Pittsburgh's religious gathering places is beautiful. I look forward to seeing it in a gallery. Thanks for sharing your blog with me.

    If you ever want to carve some chicken eggs for Ohne Titel or any other piece you are working on, let me know. We should have some dark brown and blue/green ones in the near future.

  2. thanks so much for your comments, Gabe. I'll let you know if I get back to egg carving: colors sound beautiful. Best to you! - Becky

  3. So sorry I missed you. I kept my baby home because she had contracted croup and I was feeling ill as well.

    Your blog is so interesting and inspiring. I investigated many religions as a younger girl and just wanted to commend you for your interest in exploring such a large number of belief systems around you.

    Good luck as you come to a close of your project! what a life shaping experience.
    Virginia Gard

  4. Thank you, Virginia! Great to hear from you. Hope you and your baby are on the mend. Best wishes.