This painting is two individual paintings framed together of Joseph Smith’s brown seer stone and the “interpreters” as the Book of Mormon calls them, or “spectacles” as early church members did. Sources suggest that Joseph Smith used both the interpreters and the brown stone during the Book of Mormon translation. In 1832 the church began referring to these stones collectively using the Old Testament term “Urim and Thummim.”
“The Brown Stone” is based on photographs published by the Joseph Smith Papers project. The striping in my painting isn’t exact but closely follows the same patterns as the actual brown stone photographs. For visual interest, I placed the stone resting in a linen cloth, like it had just been unwrapped or set down in the cloth that covered the plates. The swirls and lines in the folds provide visual movement, almost wrapping into the striping of the stone. The spectacles are based on descriptions by Joseph Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, and Martin Harris. Set in silver bows, these stones are purposely not completely transparent, like reading glasses. Words needed to appear on them to give the translation. Light shines through them onto the brown, desk-like background, suggestion revelation coming through them. The swirls and blues and light in them were purposeful, suggesting an earth “like a sea of glass (D&C 130:7), Urim and Thummim revealing heavenly words to Joseph Smith as he translated the Book of Mormon.
“Urim and Thummim: The Brown Stone and The Nephite Interpreters” 8×10 each, oil on board (2016) framed together in a black frame, 15×22.
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