Sunday March 31, 2019, Jeff Brimley suffered a bilateral pulmonary embolism on his walk to church. While lying in the road, Jeff was given a choice. He could remain lying down and die or he could sit up and live. While contemplating his options, Jeff felt impressed by the question, “If he were to die, would he have any regrets?” The first regret that came to mind was that he had just started a new painting. The next question for Jeff was, If he could paint anything, what would he most want to paint? Although he has painted many things over the years, Jeff knew that he wanted to paint people and their stories, but what he didn’t know was which people or which stories.
One day Jeff read a quote from Gordon B. Hinckley: “The lives of our people must become the most meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship.” This statement caused Jeff to rethink the way he would choose what to paint. Instead of focusing on those who were well known, such as prophets or prominent leaders, Jeff wanted to focus on regular people, those who are often overlooked because they seem so ordinary. Hinckley’s statement also guided Jeff to focus on those everyday events that make up the “lives of our people” which “become the most meaningful expression[s]of our faith”. Jeff wanted to help people recognize that they are already demonstrating their faith in every aspect of their lives, and that they need neither titles nor prestige to be important to God. Some people may already know their own worth in God’s eyes. Other people struggle silently to know that they belong in God’s family. It is Jeff’s hope that by viewing other people like them, those silent strugglers will know they do belong, they have a purpose in God’s plan, and they are loved.
The “Art of Living” project is an open ended series of paintings that portray normal people going about their daily activities as “an expression of [their] faith and … a symbol of [their] worship”. At first it began with portraying people in their daily work, but when a young man in Jeff’s neighborhood was struggling with severe depression, Jeff knew that the “Art of Living” project was more than just the work we do, the “Art of Living” needed to include people of all ages and backgrounds. From professors to librarians, mechanics to musicians, people in every walk of life demonstrate faith in personal ways.
In the artworks, visitors will see examples of people engages in familiar activities. Viewers will be challenged to find ways to use their unique gifts to help others.