Retired Columbia University professor Richard L. Bushman is best known for his biography of Mormon founder Joseph Smith and as an expert in early American history.

In the past few years, though, he and his historian wife, Claudia Lauper Bushman, have taken a keen interest in the arts — specifically those associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This week, the two talk about what prompted them to help organize the Center for Latter-day Saint Arts in New York City, which just completed its third annual festival, and what they see as the faith’s aesthetic.