In Alumni, Department of Art, Faculty and Staff

Wise fools and fish on leashes. Dragons and dwarves. Boats and beetles. Flying pigs and goblin princesses.

The imaginative images of myths, fables and fantasies depicted by James C. Christensen will live on in myriad mediums, despite the death of the artist recognized for his works of fantasy and faith.

Christensen, a world-renowned LDS fantasy artist and former BYU art faculty member, died Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, in Orem after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 74.


Former CFAC faculty member passes away

James C. Christensen passed away Jan. 8, 2017 at the age of 74 after an ongoing battle with cancer. Born in Culver City, California in 1942, Christensen was a well-known American artist of religious and fantasy art. He studied at Santa Monica College and UCLA, and graduated from Brigham Young University with a Master’s Degree in Art.

Christensen is an Honored Alumnus and was a Visual Arts Emeritus Faculty at BYU. He received many awards such as Utah’s Top 100 Artists by the Springville Museum of Art, the Governor’s Award for Art from the Utah Arts Council, and was inducted into the U.S. Art magazine’s Hall of Fame. Christensen and his wife, Carole, were co-chairs of the Mormon Arts Foundation.

BYU illustration professor, Robert Barrett worked closely with Christensen. “Jim Christensen will certainly be missed as a creative contributor to the art world and to our community,” Barrett said. “Prior to his retirement, Jim taught and advised a number of students in the Illustration Program and was an effective teacher and mentor. While on the faculty at BYU, he would frequently visit the Illustration classes and following his retirement would open his studio for visits by the Illustration faculty and students.​”

Christensen wrote several books including: A Journey of the Imagination: The Art of James Christensen (1994), Voyage of the Basset (1996), and Rhymes and Reasons (1997). His work has been featured in many other books, including A Shakespeare Sketchbook (2001), which he illustrated.

“In addition to his fantasy work, Jim contributed his creative energies to temple murals for the Nauvoo and Provo City temples as well as several scripturally based paintings and illustrations, Barrett said. “His impact on BYU and its creative culture as well as on the LDS Church as a whole will continue to be felt for years to come.”

Christensen is survived by his wife and five children, two of whom, Cassandra Christensen Barney and Emily Christensen McPhie, are also alumnae of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at BYU and are notable artists.

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