News Story

Pacific Artists Selected for International Art Competition

Latter-day Saint artists from Tonga and Australia talk about how their faith influences their art

Three artists from the Pacific area were recently selected for the 12th International Art Competition sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The artists are Alyce Bailey and Reena Naidu from Australia and Moeaki Kivalu from Tonga.

This year’s competition invites viewers to explore the powerful gospel message that “all are alike unto God” (Book of Mormon - 2 Nephi 26:33). Among the varied themes found in this rich body of work, viewers can see expressions of inclusion, diversity, community, and the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for all humanity.

Entries were received from church members and friends in 25 countries. 148 pieces were selected for the final exposition, and several were chosen to receive awards.

The works themselves are being displayed at the church’s Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States. A gala event will be held on 9 June 2022 at the museum with many of the artists in attendance.

All of the selected works can be seen online here. Viewers can also vote for their favourite pieces.


Because of her interest in animals, Alyce Bailey considered a career in veterinary medicine but found that she loves creating artworks that include wonderful drawings of animals.


Alyce lives in Launceston, Australia and has always loved to draw but it was only in her last two years of high school that she began to take it seriously as a potential career. At the age of 19, she was offered representation with a local gallery and after eight very successful years of showing her work with them, she decided to take a step back from showing commercially, so she can focus on completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

“Art has always been an important part of my life and it has helped me to better understand important gospel truths and to experience God's love in ways that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise.”

“When I create artwork, I always try to do so in a way that not only invites the spirit into my studio but into the lives of those who view the finished works.”

Working primarily in pen and acrylic (with the occasional shotgun blast), Alyce’s works are steeped in metaphor, nostalgia and her personal and family’s history. Through the use of animal forms, she continually seeks to explore and expose the subtle emotions of the human experience.

Her winning entry, “The Others," was selected for a Merit Award that includes a cash prize and an invitation to attend the Gala Reception in Utah which she plans to attend. (See image at the top of the article.)

In this work, three breeds of sheep confront the viewer, inviting close and careful study.

“During his mortal and post-mortal ministry, the Saviour often referred to himself as the Good Shepherd. As the Good Shepherd, he knew each of his sheep intimately and loved them unconditionally, ministering to those of his flock who were lost, sick, unclean, or afraid. He invited all to hear his voice and to come unto him that he might lead them home safely.”

"Regardless of breed, gender, or pedigree, in the eyes of the Good Shepherd, we as His sheep are all alike and are known, loved, and wanted."



Reena Naidu’s family, originally from Fiji, moved to Sydney, Australia when she was young. She joined the Church at age 13 but because of family circumstances, she wasn’t able to attend. Years later, some missionaries knocked on her door and she welcomed them in and began attending worship services again.

Two years later, she was called to serve a full-time mission in the Marshall Islands. “It was a beautiful and also challenging place to be and I met some amazing people there and had a really great experience.”

Reena’s first exposure to art came in high school when she took a required course in art where the assignment was to do a self-portrait. She had no idea what she was doing but soon realized she had a gift for drawing.

“At about the same time, I read a Church talk about developing our talents and I felt inspired to develop my artistic skills.” She felt inspired to look into going to college. That led to her earning a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Fine Arts from The National Art School in Dalinghurst, Sydney and pursuing art full-time. Today she is a manager for an art supplies company where she helps others learn about and select just the right materials for their art projects.

“My subject matter includes but is not limited to landscapes, seascapes, portraits and more. I also have a strong desire to create works that are inspired by my faith and look forward to creating more religious and spiritual art.”

She loves working with ink, watercolour and acrylic paints. For her winning entry she used dots of black ink on white linen.


The work that was selected for the show is called “The Sacred Grove.” While watching General Conference in 2020, she heard a talk about Church founder Joseph Smith’s experiences as a young man in the Sacred Grove in New York. She asked a missionary couple at her Institute of Religion class, Arthur and Valerie Burke, if they had ever been there. They said yes, gave her a photo of it and told her about their spiritual experiences being there.

“As I listened, I got lost in the moment and I was drawn into the photo, and I knew I wanted to try to paint this sacred place. I felt the Holy Spirit guiding my hand.”

For Naidu, the grove is a reminder that God loves and hears His children.

“The Restoration of the gospel, beginning with the appearance of Deity in that wood, provides a way for all of humanity to receive God’s blessings.”

What is remarkable to me is that whenever I do art, I am guided by the spirit, far beyond my own understanding and my abilities.



Moeaki grew up in Tonga and began his artwork while attending Liahona High School in Nuku’alofa. He entered an international art competition in Denmark and came in third place. He received an Associate of Arts Degree from Ricks College in the United States and then a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Brigham Young University. For the past nine years, he has been teaching art at his alma mater, Liahona High School in Tonga.

Moe works in oil, acrylic and watercolour and describes his art as abstract expressionism. He is most interested in drawing things that are beyond the veil.

“I had some near-death experiences when I was a child which have influenced me. When my father was a mission president, he asked me to do a drawing of the plan of salvation as a missionary tool. I got a chance to draw the spirit world and the creation of the earth and the planets, light and darkness, paradise, and spirit prison. It really fired my imagination to think about what it is like beyond the veil.”

He also had a strong impression to draw life beyond the veil two weeks before the big volcanic eruption in Tonga.

A unique aspect of Moeaki’s painting is that it includes a piece of tapa cloth. Tapa is made from the bark of mulberry trees finished with starch from root crops like taro or kumara, and is often painted with vegetable pigments.

“Tapa is a very important part of Tongan culture. Newborn babies are wrapped in it, brides and grooms wear it on their wedding day and caskets are draped with it at funerals. It literally is the fabric of our lives. To me, it is an actual veil between this life and the spirit world so it’s important that it is included in my art.”

Moeaki’s wife, Vika, said, “He is a very gentle guy and is able to visualize things that I can’t, like ministering angels. His work is filled with hope, peace and love that is from beyond the veil.”

The work that was selected for the show is a tapa collage and acrylic on cardboard entitled, “All Are Alike unto Christ.”

The work shows the separation between mortal life from a heavenly existence including tapa cloth as a veil. Beyond that veil, Kivalu portrays ministering angels, eager to reach out and bless those in times of great need.

"We all long for peace, love, and comfort," Kivalu says, "and if we really seek Jesus, He is always in our midst."

"All are alike unto God in the sense that we all feel that we are being ministered to by the Saviour and His angels in times of need."

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