Robert Barrett: Mormon Artist
Robert T. Barrett is a prolific painter, illustrator, muralist, and visual art professor. Born in 1949, he received a BFA degree in painting from the University of Utah in 1973 and an MA and MFA in painting from the University of Iowa in 1975 and 1976. Barrett studied painting in Europe as the recipient of a German Academic Exchange Grant. He was also an artist in residence at the Kimball Art Center due to the joint grant from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Utah Arts Council. He has taught at Brigham Young University for more than thirty years and is a professor of illustration. He served as an associate dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications. In 1995 he was awarded the Karl G. Maeser Award for Teaching Excellence and in 2004 he was awarded the Karl G. Maeser Research and Creative Arts Award.
Barrett has received more than fifty local and national awards for his art. In August 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Phi Kappa Phi Artist Award. He has also been selected as one of the Most Honored Living Artists of Utah. In 2014, two of Barrett's works were accepted into the May/June 2014 Issue of Communication Arts, a prestigious juried competition that then publishes the winners as "the best in visual communications" from around the world. Each winning entry also receives a personalized Award of Excellence, milled from solid aluminum. Barrett also had four illustrations accepted into the Society of Illustrators 52nd Illustration West Competition hosted in 2014. Of the four pieces, the book cover art for Christmas from Heaven received an Honorable Mention Award, and another illustration from the same book received the Bronze Award. Barrett spoke at the April 2014 College of Fine Arts and Communication convocation. In 2014, he received the University Professorship Award at BYU's Annual University Conference.
He was a Signature Status Recipient in 2017, an award presented by the Portrait Society of America. “Signature Status recognizes those practicing and accomplished artists who are dedicated to the educational mission and high aesthetic standards of the Portrait Society of America. The artist's work must consistently demonstrate a high level of skill and sophistication of aesthetics. This honorary status grants the right to use the initials of the organization (PSS-Portrait Society Signature) on all personally created works as an indication of our harmonious high standards and goals, to create, to advance and to share.”
Barrett is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has created numerous paintings and illustrations for the Church. His professional work for the Church started when he was commissioned to create a black and white illustration for the February 1978 New Era Magazine. The magazine’s editors liked it so much they decided to feature it on the cover. He created hundreds of drawings for a Church-published scripture series for children and art for the Church magazines and other publications. His work appears in numerous temples. He has painted portraits of many of the presidents of the Church, including current president Thomas S. Monson.
The list of works he has created stretches over more than eighty pages of thirty to forty projects on each page—he estimates a few thousand total. He has completed hundreds of book illustrations. His clientele includes publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin, Random House, McGraw Hill, Harper Collins, Double Day, Bantam and Thomas Nelson, and his works have been featured in International Artists Magazine, Southwest Art, The Artist’s Magazine and American Artist. He has completed limited edition collectors’ plates for the Bradford Exchange in Chicago as well as limited edition prints for Millpond Press in Florida.
He has exhibited his work in many art shows including those at the Society of Illustrators in New York, the Directors Guild of America, NY, and the National Arts Club, NY. His work has also been exhibited at the Annual Utah Illustrator’s Exhibitions, the Annual Springville Salons and exhibits at the Salt Lake Art Center. He has had a number of one-man shows including those at the Society of Illustrators, Springville Art Museum, the St. George Art Museum, the Kimball Art Center, Repartee Gallery, BYU, BYU-Idaho, and the Busam Gallerie in Berlin Germany.
Barrett and his wife, Vicki, are the parents of ten children.