Mormon Artist shutting down after next issue

5.19.11 | | 16 comments

In a post on his personal blog last week, Ben Crowder has announced that Mormon Artist will be shut down after the next issue, #16. Mormon Artist began just three years ago as an online magazine covering the arts by and for Mormons. Crowder says that the publication’s goal was to show that “there’s a lot more going on in the Latter-day Saint arts world than many of us realized.”

I believe that Mormon Artist has indeed shown that this is true. But shouldn’t the goal be something more? While we do have a few literary publications, I don’t think there is any other publication comparable to Mormon Artist. In particular, the Mormon visual arts have no other publication, as far as I know.

Crowder does hint that some of his editors plan another publication. Lets hope what they have in mind can take the place of Mormon Artist. And that their goal is something more than just showing that Mormon Arts are significant.

16 comments: “Mormon Artist shutting down after next issue

  1. Th.

    .

    I rather wish those editors would just take over MA to keep the brand going. What Ben built will matter for a long time to come.

  2. Kent Larsen Post author

    Yes. I understand Ben not wanting to do it anymore. But shutting down a successful institution doesn’t make any sense.

  3. Jonathan Langford

    I admit to being disappointed that they’re shutting down. Partly it’s the frustration we’ve talked about here before — that there doesn’t seem to be any institutional staying power to many of the most promising developments in the Mormon literary and artistic scene. Partly it’s guilt — because I never took the time to read the issues and should have, and meant to — and if I didn’t do that, how can I blame them for moving on to new things?

    Maybe the problem is in my own mindset. Maybe we need to move to a postpermanence world, where everything is temporary and projects give way to new projects, endlessly and fluidly. Maybe permanence has always been a myth. But I admit to wishing there was the possibility of saying “I’ll come back to this later” (as I always intended to come back to Mormon Artist magazine) and having some sense that there would still be a “this” to come back to.

  4. Wm Morris

    I think that we will all be a lot more productive if we focus on projects with end dates. The world of Mormon arts just isn’t in a position to support/sustain many permanent things.

  5. Adam G.

    I’m with Kent L. It’s a fallacy to assume that everyone best expresses their voice by creating new projects. Some people have a charism for keeping someone else’s vision going.

  6. Wm Morris

    That’s the ideal, but the issue we run into is that everyone has a vision and then sets up something that makes an ongoing commitment and then things grind to a halt. I think it’d be much easier to get commitments from volunteers and maintain quality for the duration if we focus on series — kind of like the BBC model. Do the first season. If thing go well and the people involved feel they have more to say and they can get enough people together to do the work, then they do another season. And so on. And maybe there are spinoff projects as well. Or new collaborations that form. And maybe they end up doing enough seasons that something is sustained over a lengthy period of time.

    This may not really apply to Mormon Artist because as Kent notes it looks like there are editors (including my sister) who would be willing to keep the vision going, but I think, generally speaking, the field would do well to come together on certain projects.

  7. Mojo

    everyone has a vision and then sets up something that makes an ongoing commitment and then things grind to a halt.

    Or…if someone else takes over, their vision becomes the new vision and then feelings get hurt and people get mad and and and and and…

  8. Katherine Morris

    Kent: Thanks for this post. I’m one of the editors who’s trying to keep the vision of Mormon Artist going, and I appreciate this feedback. I would like to hear more of your thoughts about what was successful about the magazine–what worked–and also what potential it left untapped. May I email you about it?

    Theric & Jonathan: Thanks for your feedback. We’ve appreciated your involvement (even the times when it’s been just as a casual reader) over the years. I and another of the section editors are currently working on putting together the new incarnation of Mormon Artist, and I would appreciate hearing some of your thoughts–and eventual involvement (if you find what we’re working on interesting). May I email you about it?

    William: I agree that the field could stand to come together a lot more on certain projects–as you say. That was one of my favorite things about Mormon Artist–is that it was covering some of those gaps left by other Mormon arts groups. For the first time we saw Mormon sculptors and bookmakers. I think there is potential for a lot more collaboration and networking in the Mormon arts community.

  9. Kent Larsen Post author

    Of course you may email me.

    IMO, the biggest thing that should be done is to twist Ben’s arm and get him to give you the name and domain.

  10. Ben Crowder

    I’ve left a longish comment on my original post explaining a little more about my decision.

    Look at it this way: Mormon Artist is growing old (we’ll pretend three years is senile for the sake of this metaphor) and having a baby. The child isn’t going to be the same as the parent, and it’s going to have a different name, but it inherits a lot from the parent. If you liked the parent, you’d probably like the child.

    Sure, institutions aren’t people, and turning them into people in metaphors is slightly disturbing, but I do feel that it’s time for an exciting new generation of Mormon Artist.

    Katherine will be inheriting the audience (RSS, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and the Mormon Artist site will have a banner pointing to the new site, so the community isn’t going to be lost or destroyed — just migrated.

    I agree with Adam G. As far as I can tell, I’m one of those who is better at creating new projects, which is why it’s time for me to move on and time for Katherine to take the reins. The change to a new name/domain will let this be Katherine’s vision instead of mine, though, and I think that’s important (as Mojo points out). (Katherine’s vision is very close to mine, by the way, so I think our readers will be happy with what she produces.)

  11. Katya

    Some of you may be wondering why I’m shutting the whole thing down instead of just getting someone else to run the magazine. Even if it were easy to find someone to helm a non-profit gig like this, I’d much rather see fresh approaches — new variations on the theme, if you will. The way we’ve done things with Mormon Artist isn’t the only way to cover the Mormon arts world.

    Journals reinvent themselves all the time under new editorial leadership. There’s no reason you can’t have a “fresh approach” under the same banner, especially if Katherine’s vision is “very close to yours.”

  12. Kent Larsen Post author

    Ben wrote: “Katherine will be inheriting the audience”

    Huh? If you don’t inherit the name, how do you inherit the audience?

    Even if you pass on all the contact information, you won’t really get more than 50% of the audience, I don’t think.

  13. Ben Crowder

    I’ve changed my mind about the name/domain issue. Long live Mormon Artist.

    On a slight tangent, this post and its comment thread have been a little eye-opening to me. We didn’t get much feedback from people who weren’t already volunteers or interviewees, so I honestly didn’t know there was that much interest in the magazine. It’s a little humbling.

  14. Mahonri Stewart

    I’m so glad to hear Ben is reconsidering shuttering _Mormon Artist_! It’s been a professional, inspirational magazine whose every issue I anxiously look forward to. And Katherine in my mind is the perfect successor. Her and Ben seem to have similar instincts and values and I think that she’ll be amazing.

    As to passing on visions and projects… well, look at Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The Church certainly looked different under both leaders (and every leader since then), but the Church was more than worth keeping nevertheless, despite the evolution.

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