A Mormon Image: Ghana Temple Murals

March 17, 2004 | 6 comments
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GhanaMuralsSmall.jpg
Beginning with the Saint George Temple, our temples use to include murals. Generally the endowment would progress from a creation room, to a garden room, to a world room, to a telestial room, and finally to a celestial room. From the Saint George Temple to the Los Angles Temple, the practice was to put murals on the walls of the creation, garden, and world rooms showing some version of creation, garden, and world. Then for a long period of time, these murals disappeared from our temples. With the Ghana temple, they are back.

Frequently, these murals were geographically specific. Thus, in the garden room of the Manti temple, the murals — painted by C.C.A. Christiansen — show a lush garden, but if you look at the moutains in the background you realize that it is a garden set in Sanpete County, where the temple is located. The same is true for Minerva Tiechart’s wonderful murals in the world room. If you look carefully, you will notice the New Jerusalem is actually Salt Lake City.

Once the church moved to a film presentation of the endowment — originally as a way of accomodating multiple languages — we stopped putting murals in temples. We also stopped having multiple rooms. With the Saint Louis temple (I believe) movement was once more introduced into the endowment. There is no longer a creation, garden, world, telestial, and celestial room, but in place of the simple ordinance room/celestial room format the newer temples have an endowment room, a telestial room, and a celestial room. With the Ghana Temple we reintroduced murals, putting paintings on the walls of the endowment room showing the Ghanan country side. (More images here).

In my opinion, this is a potentially huge shift in Mormon art. The idea is that the Church is once again is in the business of commissioning major works of art for temples that will be individual to those temples. More than that, the temple is once more being conceptualized as a building that is an integral part of the endowment, rather than simply a container in which the endowment occurs. This reconceptualization of the meaning of temple architecture has potentially huge implications, because it provides a liscense — indeed an imperitive — for the building to convey more symbolic and iconographic meaning. The symbolism and iconography, in turn, could play midwife to the renewal of Mormon art.

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6 Responses to A Mormon Image: Ghana Temple Murals

  1. greenfrog on March 17, 2004 at 1:09 pm

    Isn’t film art?

  2. Frank on March 17, 2004 at 2:39 pm

    The painting of murals in temples was not “reintroduced” with the Ghana temple. Murals have been painted in new temples for several years now. For example, I have personally observed the beautiful murals in the endowment room of the Columbia River temple, which has been dedicated for almost three years now. Murals have been previously painted in other newer temples as well. Lets get the facts straight, people!

  3. Nate Oman on March 17, 2004 at 2:46 pm

    My mistake.

  4. Adam Greenwood on March 17, 2004 at 3:57 pm

    The Ghana Temple was also the one opened with a huge cultural festival dance and song extraganza, all part of the Church’s insidious ‘browning’ or ‘artsing’ or something.

  5. Nate Oman on March 17, 2004 at 6:30 pm

    Looking at the Church website, it looks like the Columbia River Temple was the recent temple to have murals. Snowflake, Redlands, Lubbock, Monicello, and Alaska all have murals, pictures of which can be found on the church website. See

    http://www.lds.org/newsroom/displaytopic/0,15343,3898-1-612-20,00.html

  6. cooper on March 17, 2004 at 9:14 pm

    The Redlands Temple murals (as mentioned in the temple murals and art post earlier) are beautiful. They represent the Redlands area prior to industrialization. The one that that bothers me though is the use of skylights. They bring in natural light that brings in too much light during the day. The murals seem washed out. At night they are very impressive. What is very beautiful is the sculpted carpets. The process in having them sculpted is amazing. The man that does it is indeed an artist. They lay the wool carpet down. Then the artist comes in, draws with a magic marker the design on the floor. This has to be a one time process. He’s drawing on white carpet in the celestial room, and other colors throughout the temple. He then gets out his clippers and clips away the carpet to create the design. In Redlands the design is a circular pattern inside other circles. The circles are perfect. No templates used in the design. What a talent.

    Another thing I love is there is a “dresden plate” design in the floor in the entry way. It is the same design on the floor as the sofa there also. The look is stunning. Beautiful blues, greys and gold. Really nice.