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Art of hearing, seeing pioneer stories through fresh eyes

Getting to the truth can be hard when history is so often “sugar-coated,” novelist says.

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"Here in this community, you have people who are LDS and are very much enmeshed in the story — the official story," said Larsen, an adjunct assistant professor of screenwriting at the University of Utah who has also taught at Brigham Young University. "And for them, it’s a little threatening to wander outside that because their beliefs are hanging on those things. And I can understand that. On the other hand, you have a community here that’s antagonistic to Mormons" who also have strong feelings about polygamy.

"The Raid," commissioned by the Utah State Bar for the state’s centennial, was based on the 1888 polygamy trial of George Q. Cannon, a church leader. The drama raised questions about the rights of the state versus the rights of the individual and took on the subject of plural marriage from multiple angles — including questioning the conventional wisdom that while it was a hardship for women, it was great for men.

At a glance

About the artists

For information about writer Sandra Dallas’s book True Sisters, visit www.sandradallas.com.

For information about Utah painter Al Rounds’ handcart painting, visit www.alrounds.com and search for “Trial of Hope...Last Hill.” (Full disclosure: Arts editor Ellen Fagg Weist is a cousin of Al Rounds, and she suggested a list of nearly a dozen sources for this original story.)

For more about writer Paul Larsen, visit his biography page as a University of Utah adjunct assistant professor of screenwriting at http://bit.ly/NA97RA.

Pioneer Day pleasures

For our listing of July 24th events around the state of Utah, visit www.sltrib.com/lifestyle and search for the headline: “Handcarts, parades and fireworks.”

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"Everyone admires pioneers; polygamy makes people uncomfortable," Larsen said. "It’s not an easy topic to tackle, but I think that made it worthwhile. Art is supposed to challenge people."

And, as far he’s concerned, art shouldn’t take the easy way out.

"It’s easier to trivialize a thing," Larsen said. "It’s more challenging to try to make them think about their long-held views."


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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