The exhibit, entitled The Trumpet Shall Sound: Angels and Messengers in the Bible, chronicles the variety of angelic visitations detailed in the Old and New Testaments.
“To me, the paintings are about God’s messengers communicating to his children,” Richards said. “All the paintings are about angels and messengers, so it’s kind of a contemplation of how God talks to us.”
Richards said scriptural accounts of angels fascinate him because they remind him of his personal interactions with God.
“I think about the ways that I feel God has spoken to me,” Richards said. “I haven’t had some of the same dramatic experiences that some of the prophets in the Bible have had, but I feel I have had the voice of the Spirit speak to me and direct me in my life.”
Richards said he hopes those who leave the gallery feel the same awe and gratitude towards God’s constant guidance throughout their lives.
“The artistic statement is meant for 2016,” Richards said. “As much as ever, God cares about us.”
President Clarke Gilbert, who attended the gallery’s opening reception on Thursday night, said the university has made significant investments so students can enjoy worthwhile art exhibits.
“I think students will see a beautiful art exhibit, yet also be moved spiritually,” President Gilbert said. “Whether you’re an art fan or just a committed member of the Church, you’re going to have a great experience if you come here.”
Mark Bennion, an English Department faculty member, said he felt reverence while walking through the exhibit, especially as he gazed at the piece entitled, The Trumpet Shall Sound.
“I just think his rendering of his work is wonderful because it’s abstract, but you get just enough to know exactly what’s happening,” Bennion said. “It draws the eye to what’s specific and allows you to fill in the details of that which is more abstract. It’s wonderful how he’s balanced the abstraction with the concrete.”
Bennion said he believes the spiritual nature of Richard’s work could connect with anyone, regardless of religious affiliation.
“Anyone who is familiar with the Bible would resonate with this work I think,” Bennion said. “If you have a belief in the Savior, regardless of your denomination, you’re going to feel the Spirit.”
President Gilbert said he and his family have admired Richard’s talent before his exhibit even came to BYU-Idaho.
“Students who come to our house for Family Home Evening will see one of our favorite J. Kirk Richards’ painting, Every Knee Shall Bow,” President Gilbert said. “One of the things he does so well is he captures a feeling in his paintings, and yet he’s been able to do it in a way that is both artistically evocative and spiritual.”
The Spori Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays. The exhibit will remain on campus until Oct. 13.