Center for Latter-day Saint Arts
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Come, Follow Me (Art Companion)

To assist people of all ages in their study of the scriptures, the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts has prepared a weekly tool to go with each lesson from the Come, Follow Me manual using fine art and objects created by members of the Church, commentary, and questions to spark discussion.

July 1-7 - "Ye Shall Be Witnesses unto Me"

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Hildebrando de Melo (Angolan, born 1978)

Mustard (2018)

acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 48 x 73.5 inches (three panels)

Church History Museum Collection

Used with permission of the artist

Artist’s website

The gift of tongues, as taught by Joseph Smith, has as its purpose universal understanding. It is a message that transcends national boundaries. It is one of the gifts of the spirit. The artist Hildebrando de Melo, in his painting, Mustard, created a work that uses a New Testament parable (The Mustard Seed) as a metaphor. Doing so, he levels barriers of geography and language. He refers to a familiar scriptural story and asks viewers to find themselves in an abstract work—the artist commonly uses black shapes in his paintings as proxies for himself. De Melo’s experience is rooted in a difficult part of the world. Having lived through the brutality of Angola’s Civil War, he emerged stronger and more determined than ever to grow, like the proverbial mustard seed. Collaged into the painting are pages from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Central African language of Kikongo, which was the first African language into which the Bible was translated. It is also the native language of the artist’s wife, Maria.

  1. Joseph Smith described "The ultimate design of [the gift of] tongues is to speak to foreigners" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2008], 383-84). The Apostle Paul explained to the Saints, "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). Despite our differences, how can we utilize our unique combination of gifts of the spirit to unify all into the household of God?

  2. How have you experienced communication in ways other than language to help to bridge gaps of understanding?

  3. Art project: What makes you happy? Describe this experience by carrying on a silent conversation with another person without writing words, but just through passing sketches and line drawings back and forth. See if you can understand what brings makes the other person happy, too, through his/her drawings shown to you.