BYU Law School’s New Art Jorge Cocco Communicates Values ​​to Students

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My favorite lawyers tell knee-popping lawyer jokes. It’s a great tradition.

Here is a funny a:

Having just moved into a new house, a young boy meets the boy next door. “Hi, my name is Billy,” he said. “What is your?” “Tommy,” replies the other. “My dad is an accountant,” Billy said. “What does your daddy do?” “He’s a lawyer,” Tommy replies. “Honest?” Billy asks. “No, just the normal kind.”

Jokes are a great way to signal that while some lawyers fit the cultural stereotype, others — most, according to BYU Law School Dean Gordon Smith — use it for good.

“I think some people don’t always see lawyers as peacemakers, especially if we foment conflict to generate business, but that’s not what most lawyers do,” Smith told me on Friday. .

We had begun our conversation in front of the seven striking, original and new paintings by Jorge Cocco Santángelo showing Jesus Christ playing the legal roles he held – healer, mediator, counselor, peacemaker, advocate, legislator and judge. (See all seven paintings below.)

The paintings now hang permanently on a wall outside the fictional courtroom on the third floor of the J. Reuben Clark Law Building. Smith, on the other hand, was walking while we were talking. He showed me around the paintings and photos that the law school recently started putting up around the building.

“The law school as an art museum,” he said.

Standing momentarily in his office, which includes both paintings and large photographed portraits of people around the world, he said the role of a lawyer is to reduce conflict.

“Most of us try to resolve conflicts, we try to resolve differences, and do it in a way that allows people to go away as peacefully as possible. The purpose of the legal system is to prevent violent conflict,” he said.

The goal is to use the rule of law – everyone follows a set of laws that are publicly created, applied equally and judged independently – rather than descending into violence and chaos.

“Lawyers are truly peacemakers in our society, and we want to highlight that to students,” Smith said.

That’s why Cocco’s image of Jesus Christ as a peacemaker is the centerpiece of his seven new paintings hanging at the law school.

Cocco spoke at the unveiling. He said the burden he carries wakes up every day with more images in his mind than he can ever finish. When I interviewed him afterwards, I asked him what else he wanted people to know.

“I feel honored and grateful,” he said, “to have the opportunity to connect with other human beings through the gift God has given me.”

Communicating with law students through art is exactly what Smith wants to do. He assigned one of the law school employees to oversee the art in the building.

“We try to communicate through art what we hope our students will aspire to become upon graduating from law school, which is people who serve one with perseverance and ensure that no one is forgotten,” he said.

“It’s hard to teach. It’s more difficult to do. »

The idea started with an exhibition of photographs designed to communicate the idea that each person has value and is worthy of respect, concepts from the 2018 Declaration of Punta del Este of Human Dignity for Everyone Everywhere, an international document created in part by BYU’s International Center for Legal and Religious Studies.

Today, an exhibit about the declaration and photographs of people from around the world adorn a wall on the second floor of the courthouse.

“When that happened, I had this little revelation that we have all these walls here that are educational spaces, basically, like an art museum,” Smith said as we watched this exhibit from the lobby. from the third floor.

“So in our library we now have an exhibit on women’s suffrage, and outside the courtroom on the lower level we have an exhibit on the civil justice system in the United States. “

Smith then walked me around a corner to see a copy of Maynard Dixon’s famous 1934 painting, “forgotten man.” The BYU Museum of Art owns the original painting. A print hangs in the office by President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which sponsors BYU.

Chairman Oaks is the first vice chairman of BYU’s board of directors.

Smith has speak often about why he had a copy of “Forgotten Man” installed at law school.

“As advocates, our job is to treat each individual with respect and to make it clear that they are children of our Heavenly Father, that their value is great in the sight of God, and that no one should be forgotten,” said he declared. “It’s our role, to ensure that no one is forgotten.”

Smith told me that the law school was discussing with another well-known Latter-day Saint artist the possibility of creating another painting for the law school related to Christ’s teachings on the value of all.

“Our hope is to drive these themes home to our students,” Smith said. “If you’re a lawyer and that’s deep in you, you’ll be a great lawyer.”

My recent stories

Kyiv Temple in Ukraine reopens to Latter-day Saints as conflict continues (October 17)

Can a public university advance religious freedom? The tenacious grip of ASU President Michael Crow (October 17)

BYU School of Law Unveils Artist Jorge Cocco’s New Paintings of the 7 Law-Related Roles of Jesus Christ (October 14)

A cyberattack hacked into some data of Latter-day Saint members. Here’s what we know (October 13)

About the church

President Russell M. Nelson offered six steps to become “true disciples of Jesus Christ” in an address to Latter-day Saints in Western Canada.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf traveled to New Zealand. It was greeted by a maori warrior at a welcoming ceremony. Then he rededicated the renovated Hamilton Temple in New Zealand.

David A. Bednar has visited five European countries. Here is an excellent report by Mary Richards on his ministry stops in Romania and Hungary.

Have you seen the pictures of the church Hill Cumorah Reforestation Project?

You can download an updated chart of general church authorities here.

A BYU football player’s career-ending injury led to action. He is now Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon video series. He has a great vision of losing a dream and moving forward. Read more here.

I spent both too much time and far too little time browsing through the links provided in This articlewhich is an excellent overview of what he describes as “the most fascinating Book of Mormon research today”.

what i read

A Latter-day Saint father of five from Rexburg, Idaho, death in Ukraine injured by shrapnel while serving as a volunteer fighter in an international legion defending the country.

As far as what I watch, I really enjoyed the first season of “The Rings of Power” on Prime Video. The two series creators share the backstory of how they won the competition to do the show and respond to criticism in this story.

Oh, and my daughter who loves the original Star Trek series is watching the first season of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” with me. It’s a terrific nod to OG Star Trek, with the captain who preceded James T. Kirk working alongside a young Spock and a young Lt. Uhura. The title says it all: it mimics the original series as in each episode the team searches for strange new worlds and civilizations. here is a dazzling review.

The Cuban Missile Crisis remains an endlessly fascinating moment in nuclear-age and Cold War history. I devoured this new room by a colleague at Deseret News about a little-known man at the center of discovery that pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war.

A trio of researchers from BYU say that US courts seem willing to open up legal marriage to polyamory.

In the wings

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency and President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, poses for a photo next to a print of “Forgotten Man,” a painting by Maynard Dixon, in his office in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. BYU Law School Dean Gordon Smith said President Oaks used the painting to inspire him to hang a print at the J. Reuben Clark Law School.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Jon J. Epps