Leslie O. Peterson
Leslie O. Peterson came to art, not by design but by serendipity. In 2011, she enrolled in a community art class with a son-ion-law-, who had recently suffered a stroke. Though she meant the course to be a form of therapy for him, she was captured in an instant and has been a painter of prolific output ever since. Peterson is best known for her charming, whimsical series of portraits titled “The Forgotten Wives of Joseph Smith.” These 34 portraits have garnered a great deal of attention locally and nationally. In 2015, Provo’s Writ & Vision bookstore featured the collection for several weeks, the University of Utah and Dixie State University both staged exhibits, and a video about the series won two awards in the annual Radio West Film Competition. Most notably, The New York Times published an article about Peterson and all the wives in its August 17, 2015 edition. Peterson decided to paint Smith’s wives after reading an essay about them on lds.org, the Church’s web site. She says that working on the portraits was her way of celebrating their reappearance in Mormon awareness and bringing them to life in Church history after a long absence.