Visual artists come together for inspirational Christmas exhibit

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SALT LAKE CITY -- For decades they have been both friends and competitors, now visual artists who focus on inspirational works have formed their own association. They have come together for a first annual Christmas exhibit.

For decades, artist Sandra Rast has created works of art that people have found inspiring. Now she and fellow artists with a similar vision have formed a new group called "the Inspirational Art Association."

"A landscape can inspire, a sunset can inspire, a hand, a set of beautiful hands painted gorgeously can inspire," she says. "Anything good comes through the Light of Christ, and I think that is what all of the artists are trying to portray."

When painting sacred images, Jay Ward, president of the Inspirational Art Association, uses a gentle touch. He puts his heart into his paintings and wants people to understand original art is not just for collectors, but can be treasures passed from one generation to another.

"It's not like TV. If they like it for a while, they like it or they turn it off, or they rent their movie, watch it and it's gone," Ward explains. "It becomes a part of their family."

The artists say there is strength in numbers and coming together gives them the opportunity to offer encouragement and find support.

Although most in the association are Latter-day Saints, membership is open to artists of all faiths.

Inspirational Art Association founder Greg Stroud says, "We invite artists from every walk of life who seek to inspire, uplift and strengthen their community to join us in our endeavor to make a difference."

The artists believe this exhibit will give them an opportunity to meet people, make new friends and say thank you to those who have supported them in the past. They want their artwork to provide hope and create peaceful environments for many more.

The Inspirational Art Association Exhibit is at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. It runs Friday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.



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