Jane and Emma: A Story of Courage, Faith, and Friendship

Jane and Emma, a groundbreaking new film produced by Excel Entertainment, shares an up close and personal look at the relationship between Jane Manning James and Emma Smith. These are two women whose friendship and sisterhood helped them through trials of faith, racism, and personal sacrifices.

Born a free black woman in Wilton, CT, Jane felt impressed to be baptized after listening to missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was fully convinced that it was the true gospel and that she must embrace it.

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After being baptized into the Church, she desired that her family follow her example. Eight of her family members were eventually baptized.

Jane and her family traveled by foot from Wilton to Nauvoo, IL, to live near the Prophet Joseph Smith and other Church members. It was there that she became very close to the Smith family, especially Joseph’s wife, Emma.

“[Jane] was someone in whom Emma could confide in wholly,” said Emily Goss, who portrays Emma in Jane and Emma. “Jane was not competition for Emma, so they were able to have a bond and a true sisterhood. They were intellectual equals and I think Emma admired [Jane’s] own sacrifice.”  

“For those outside of our community,” said Arthur Van Wagenen, CEO of Excel Entertainment, “both religious and secular—Jane and Emma presents an opportunity to talk about race, gender and religion in a healing and constructive way.” 

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Unlike other movies about the life of Joseph Smith, this movie discusses hard topics such as race inside and outside the Church, women and their important roles, as well as the controversial topic of polygamy and the impact it had on Emma Smith.

Arthur Van Wagenen, CEO of Excel Entertainment continued, “This is an opportunity to learn what we can do better as Americans when confronting ills in our own society today.”

“I was talking with a business partner, filmmaker, partner in crime friend about making a film,” Chantelle Squires, director of Jane and Emma said. “The conversation went, ‘we need to make a movie about women, by women, for women.’ And I looked at him and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Directed by Chantelle Squires, written by Melissa Leilani Larson, and produced by Jenn Lee Smith, Madeline Jorgensen, Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes of Clearstone Films, Jane and Emma serves as a momentous achievement for female filmmakers, especially those who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jane and Emma received the ReFrame stamp of approval, an initiative made to recognize and promote gender-balanced films and television shows by using IMDBPro data to “analyze films and television series to see how many women were involved in the production, and how much screen time female characters had,” said Variety magazine. 

“To earn the ReFrame Stamp, a film or TV show must meet a handful of requirements that call for women in key roles like starring, directing, producing, and writing. Additional points are awarded for having racial diversity.” 

“Seeing Jane and Emma is the opportunity to see women’s roles [and] women’s place outside of the male perspective,” said Danielle Deadwyer, who portrays Jane in Jane and Emma. “We have to see more work about women and by women and how they’ve stepped through the world. Seeing this film will give you that opportunity.”

Racial diversity played a pivotal role both in the film, but also in the actual, real-life story. Jane had to endure race-based hardships, even from some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose prejudice led them to believe the worst about Jane. 

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The film was also included in the Bustle article, “16 October 2018 Movies Written or Directed by Women that Should Be on Your Watch List.”

“[Jane and Emma] is giving you the opportunity to see how gutsy and bold and audacious and how much perseverance we have,” Danielle said. “What does it look like to be aggressive in a feminine body? That’s what this film can give you a conversation about.”

The movie Jane and Emma is being released in select theaters October 12th. Click here to find a theater near you. Want the film to come to your theater? Request the film in your area here!

 

 

Make Easter More Meaningful

Easter is a sacred holiday that gives us the privilege to reflect on the greatest miracle ever performed by the Savior, Jesus Christ. As the holiday season approaches, it is easy to be distracted by chocolates, eggs, and bunnies. This year, make Easter more than a day. Spend time learning about the Savior’s death and Resurrection individually and with your family with these Christ-centered books and gifts.

Atonement (30'‘ x 22” Framed Art), by Kate Lee

Atonement represents that powerful and loving event when Christ took on all the pain, sin, and obstacles of the world. Through her art, Kate Lee shares not only her love for the Savior but His love for us all. This is a beautiful addition to a home, especially during this special season that focuses on the Savior and His great love for us.

Celebrating a Christ-Centered Easter: Seven Traditions to Lead Us Closer to Jesus Christ, by Emily Belle Freeman

Discover how the personal experiences of people who were closest to the Savior during the final week of His life can change the way your family celebrates Easter. Learn the meaning behind the wheat baskets, the forget knot, the red egg, and other traditions that will help Easter become a “High Holy Day” in your heart and in your home.

The Atoning One, by Robert L. Millet

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is—and should be—at the very center of all we teach. Everything else is peripheral. Everything else is either connected to this central, saving truth or it has no power to bless or change us. It is vital that we understand that through this singular act by our loving Lord, we can be reawakened, redeemed, reclaimed, and restored when we fall short or wander off the gospel path. At the same time, we must recognize that although the Lord’s Atonement is at the heart of God’s plan, we cannot and should not attribute everything good that happens in our lives to that Atonement. Both the first and third members of the Godhead have a myriad of ways in which They too bless the children of our Father in Heaven.

Amazed by Grace, by Sheri Dew

In Amazed by Grace, Sheri Dew discusses important questions, exploring a topic that she describes as being central to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. “The most compelling, most life-changing message of all time,” she writes, “is that Jesus Christ has already triumphed over sin, death, hell, temptation, and every kind of misery.”

As we come to more fully understand the majestic doctrine of grace, our faith will increase. We will see how the Savior keeps His promise to make weak things strong. And we will believe the truth that “His Atonement makes available all of the power, peace, light, and strength that we need to deal with life's challenges.”

The Infinite Atonement, by Tad R. Callister

With The Infinite Atonement, Brother Callister offers us what may be the most comprehensive yet understandable treatment of the Atonement in our day. He thoughtfully probes the infinite scope of this “great and last sacrifice,” describing its power and breadth and explaining how it redeems us all. With clarity, testimony, and understanding, The Infinite Atonement teaches us rich and wonderful truths about this “doctrine of doctrines” and elevates our spirits as we contemplate the perfect love of Him who gave all that we might receive all.

The Holy Week for Latter-day Saint Families: A Guide for Celebrating Easter, by Wendee Wilcox Rosborough

This day-by-day guide will help you and your family celebrate the week leading up to Easter. Families will be reminded of Jesus as they experience Palm Sunday, Cleansing Monday, Parable Tuesday, Betrayal Wednesday, Last Supper Thursday, Good Friday, Salvation Saturday, and Easter Sunday. The Holy Week will draw your family closer to Christ this Easter and help you celebrate the true meaning of this important holy day.

The book includes

  • Scriptures related to the events of eachday

  • Inspirational messages for families

  • Fun and meaningful activities

  • Festive recipes

  • Beautiful fine art pieces

The Continuous Atonement, by Brad Wilcox

Most members of the Church acknowledge that perfection is a long-term process, but they overlook the continuous nature of Christ’s Atonement that makes that process possible. Peace is found not by giving up or erasing the need to change, but by turning to the One who makes change possible and realizing that we get lots of chances to start again. So, if at first you don’t succeed either, don't find excuses. Find the Savior and the blessings of His continuous Atonement.

Christ-Focused Easter Baskets

Easter is coming up quickly, which means jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and egg hunts! With all the fun festivities, it is sometimes easy to forget the real meaning of Easter. Help your children better understand the importance of the Savior on this special holiday by filling their Easter baskets with Christ-centered gifts! These resources are an easy way to create meaningful traditions with your family that center on the Savior, while still making fun Easter memories together.

Celebrating a Christ-Centered Easter, Children’s Edition

Discover how the people around Jesus during the week of His Crucifixion and Resurrection can lead your family closer to Christ this Easter season. This children's edition of Celebrating a Christ-Centered Easter will guide you through seven meaningful traditions inspired by the people closest to the Savior during His holy week.

This interactive book invites children to get to know various people in Christ's life during those sacred days and to discover the lessons they learned in their encounters with Him. It encourages children to ask what they might have done if they had been there on the days when Jesus was crucified and resurrected. Seven colorful Easter ornaments have been created to accompany each lesson.

Miracles of Jesus

Introduce your little ones to the many miracles Jesus performed during His mortal ministry. Follow along as the new star appears at Jesus’s miraculous birth to His Atonement and Resurrection, His greatest miracle. With simple, engaging text, colorful artwork, and intricate cutouts that reveal portions of the illustrations before you turn the page, Miracles of Jesus is the perfect book for young children to develop a testimony of the Savior as they read it time and time again, by themselves or together with your family. Perfect for Easter!

The Book of Mormon Children’s Journal Edition

The Book of Mormon teaches us about Christ and His many miracles. The Book of Mormon children’s journal is a great way to teach your child the importance of studying about the Savior’s birth, miracles, and Resurrection. This journal includes the full text of the Book of Mormon along with large, wide margins for drawing or taking notes. Especially for children, it also features eight pages of specially-designed, colorful stickers to help children and families mark important verses and stories.

Family Gospel Study Cards

These fun study cards are just what your busy family needs to create a meaningful and engaging family scripture study experience, especially during the Easter season. Charming illustrations on the front keep kids interested and aid in scripture-story recollection. The back of each card features scripture excerpts, short contextual information, and application questions that parents can use to “liken” the scriptures to each family member. Each study card includes a favorite scripture, background information, and three questions targeted for different age groups. Includes 46 individual cards.

My Book of Mormon Friends

My Book of Mormon Friends is a great way to teach little ones about the disciples of Christ in ancient times and how God is consistent with His love for us by sending us prophets and leaders today. Make this a family tradition to learn about some of the great examples in the Book of Mormon during scripture study or on Sundays.

Pair this book with the plush toys and puzzles to keep your little ones focused on the things they learn from the scriptures before, during, and after Easter.


Jane and Emma: The best-reviewed Latter-day Saint film in this decade

One of the best-reviewed Latter-day Saint films in this decade is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Anyone interested in Church history or looking for a faith-filled and inspirational new film will find the perfect movie night with Jane and Emma.

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Jane and Emma takes a look into lesser-known characters in our Church history, exploring the relationship between Jane Manning James and Emma Smith. The narrative begins the night after Joseph Smith was martyred, and unfolds with a series of flashbacks that paint a picture of the bond between the two women.

This relationship carries the film through the evening. The bond they have, the tests they go through together, and the resolution they finally face give the film a palpable strength and power. Knowing these two women better shines a light on this part of Church history. Their faith and determination are inspirational examples as we face challenges in our own day.

Jane Manning James joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after learning about the gospel from missionaries in her home state of Connecticut. She shared what she learned with her loved ones, and ultimately led eight members of her family 800 miles on foot to find Joseph Smith and the Saints in Nauvoo. While her other family members settled in Nauvoo with jobs and new homes, Jane found a job and a home in the Smiths’ household, where she developed a strong friendship with Emma.

Lottie Peterson, reporter for Deseret News, wrote a review saying this about Jane’s character:

“Although much of the narrative, written by Melissa Leilani Larson, focuses on Emma’s grief in the aftermath of her husband’s death, the intimate setting—two close, unlikely friends keeping each other company during a sorrowful time—also allows viewers to learn more about a lesser-known character in church history. The film is rooted in limited historical record, but it does something remarkable with that limitation: It shows us why Jane's story is one worth telling.”

Jane’s incredible story is portrayed in the film by actress Danielle Deadwyler. Of her performance, Johnson says:

“Deadwyler portrays Jane with a powerful combination of steadfastness and vulnerability—she immediately travels to Nauvoo when she feels the Lord is prompting her, but we also see her crying out in prayer for an explanation.”

While Deadwyler excels as Jane, Emily Goss also makes a very powerful Emma. KSL News radio says of her performance:

“Other actresses have portrayed Emma Smith. Emily Goss is arguably the best so far. Between Emily’s acting and the script, the film strikes a tender balance in presenting a woman who is naturally gentle, who must be a community leader, who must share her husband with the church and who now must deal with the painful loss of her husband.”

These two actresses delivered a performance that will inspire those who see the film. Although set in a very different time, there is so much we can learn today about love, compassion, and faithfulness through trials from these women.

A five-star reviewer on DeseretBook.com said of the film:

“Such a powerful story told in a unique way. Every Church member needs to see this, know Jane’s and Emma’s stories, and experience the raw emotion portrayed in this film. I left it with a sense of gratitude for the incredible sacrifices and examples of these women who have faced-down prejudice, hate, and immensely-difficult life circumstances—and lived their lives the best they could in spite of it all. The film shines through the portrayal of relationship and small actions that affect change on an individual level. A wonderful soundtrack and fine production encircle the actors' powerful portrayals in this historical treasure.”

Another fan said:

“My wife and I absolutely love this movie. What a great story of love and sisterhood. We know so little about this chapter of our own history, and to be able to see it told in such a beautiful and inspiring way has really been a blessing in our lives. Jane Manning James is an inspiration to us as a pioneer that did whatever her Father in Heaven asked.”

Jane and Emma is available on DVD and Blu-ray at DeseretBook.com and Deseret Book stores.

Simple Ways to Prepare for General Conference

Twice a year, we have a great opportunity to hear from our prophet, apostles, and other leaders who have prepared inspired messages to help us come closer to Christ. It is a fantastic time to receive personal revelation to help bless our lives. We want to soak up all the counsel they provide us, and we are often asked to prepare to absorb what they teach. But how? As we inch toward conference weekend, consider the following ways to prepare for general conference.

 

Learn About the Prophet

INsights from a prophet’s life, by Sheri Dew

We are blessed to know that we have a prophet of God on the earth today, President Russell M. Nelson. Although we don’t have much one-on-one interaction with him, Sheri Dew has made it easier for us to come to know our prophet better. This unique collection of life experiences is told in short episodes with the purpose of helping readers gain their own personal insights. For if we have much to learn from what a prophet says, surely we have much to learn from how a prophet lives.

Catch Up on Your Scripture Study

A Case for the book of Mormon, by Tad R. Callister

"The book focuses on a case for the Book of Mormon," Brother Callister writes, "but in one sense the Book of Mormon does not need a case presented on its behalf. It is its own best witness—its own best evidence. . . .It bears witness of the Savior with precision and power; and it invites the Spirit in unrestrained proportions. Every aspect of the Book of Mormon bears witness of its divine origin because, in fact, it is divinely inspired."

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Fill Your Home with Uplifting Music

Let us all press On, by The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square

Featured on the album is a song called “Our Prayer to Thee,” with text written by President Russell M. Nelson in 2003. It was first performed as a hymn in that same year during general conference, paired with a tune composed by Joseph Parry. This album is number one on the Billboard Classical Traditional Charts!

 

My prayer, by Nathan Pacheco

Award-winning tenor Nathan Pacheco's new album My Prayer is his most powerful offering to date. As the follow-up to his Billboard-charting album Higher, this album continues his exploration of spiritual songs that lift, inspire, and bring peace, My Prayer is an invitation to pause a moment in this frantic world and to find deeper spiritual connection and comfort.

The Bonner Family EP, by The Bonner Family

The Bonner Family's first album features their expertly crafted vocal harmonies, soulful original songs, and a medley of beloved children's hymns. This is music that creates an atmosphere of peace, unity, and joy from one of the most talented families working in Christian music today.

 

Teach Your Children the Importance of Prophets

My book of Mormon friends, by alexis merrill

It can be hard to enjoy conference with the little ones running around. However, we can start teaching them early about the importance of a prophet today. My Book of Mormon Friends is a great way to teach the little ones about disciples of Christ in ancient times and how God is consistent with His love for us by sending us prophets today. Make this a tradition before each conference to learn about some of the great examples in the Book of Mormon.

Pair this book with the plush toys and puzzle to keep your little ones focused on the things they learn from the scriptures before, during, and after conference.

Go to the Temple

President Nelson counseled us during the October 2018 general conference to attend the temple often, and he promised great blessings that would follow as we attended (see here). Prepare for conference weekend by attending the temple and allowing the Spirit to help prepare you to hear the counsel of the prophet of God. Attending the temple is a sure way to bring the Spirit into our lives.

Travel to the temple with ease with the Luanne Temple Bag or Edwin Temple Backpack. Both are practical and functional without sacrificing style.

 

8 Sabbath Day Activities for Every Age

We love Sundays! Although there can be possible obstacles to reaching a peaceful and sacred Sabbath, there are many simple choices we can make to fill our homes with the Spirit. By making small changes, your family can begin to love Sundays and see it as a time for Christ centered family time.  Here are 9 ways to center your Sabbath on the Savior with everyone in your family.

 
  1. Learn about the prophet of God as a family

Take time to learn about the Lord’s mouthpiece together as a family while you study the life preparation the Lord gives the men He will one day call to be prophet. What are the lessons to be learned from such a life? From being raised in a home without the foundation of the gospel to the early days of his marriage and the stress of medical school to his last open-heart surgery in China, President Russell M. Nelson took advantage of every opportunity to learn and become more. If we have much to learn from what a prophet says, surely we have much to learn from how a prophet lives.

 

2. Learn to Defend the Book of Mormon together

The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. The prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none.” A Case for the Book of Mormon is divided into many small sections that make it easy for your family to study different ways to defend the Book of Mormon. Whether talking to those not of our faith or with those who are struggling with questions, you and your family can find help from best-selling author Tad Callister.

 

3. listen to christ-centered music

 

There is a special spirit that music brings into our lives, especially when it is centered on gospel truths. Bring the Spirit into your home with these beautiful words that focus on Jesus Christ.  Choose from these three inspiring new albums to help uplift and bring a new depth to your Sabbath.

 

4. come together to learn about faith, sisterhood, and church history

This faith-promoting film tells the story of Sister Jane Manning James, a free black woman and convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, returning to Nauvoo to find that Joseph Smith, her prophet and friend, has been assassinated. The unmistakable true bond of sisterhood between Emma Smith and Jane Manning is inspiring and moving. Join these two remarkable women of faith on an imagined night that reveals the essence of their complex, raw, and ultimately beautiful friendship.

 

5. Help Your Children Learn About the Miracles of Jesus

Introduce your little ones to the many miracles Jesus performed during His mortal ministry. Follow along as the new star appears at Jesus’s miraculous birth and as He feeds 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. With simple, engaging text, colorful artwork, and intricate cutouts that give fun glimpses before the full illustration is revealed, Miracles of Jesus is the perfect book for young children to develop a testimony of the Savior as they read it time and time again, by themselves or with your family.

 

6. Help your teen connect with the Savior while disconnecting from their devices

This teen adaptation of the best-selling book The Continuous Atonement will do for youth what the landmark title did for adults. With age-appropriate questions and relevant stories, this edition will help teenagers understand the transforming power of the Atonement. Whether they read it alone or together with the whole family, this book is a great way to help your teen unplug and connect with the Spirit.

 

7. learn about who’s in the book of mormon

Packed with fun facts, insightful lessons, and unique activities, this exciting book will help each member of your family better understand just who’s who in the Book of Mormon. Delightful illustrations bring each man and woman to life in vivid color. The book contains 52 separate entries, each with its own lesson and activity, so it makes the perfect resource for planning your weekly family night or for quiet Sunday reading and learning.

 

8. apply the book of mormon to your lives together

These fun study cards are just what your busy family needs to create a meaningful and engaging family scripture study experience. Charming illustrations on the front keep kids interested and aid in scripture-story recollection. The back of each card features favorite scripture excerpts, short contextual information, and application questions that parents can use to “liken” the scriptures to each family member. Each study card includes three questions targeted for different age groups. Includes 46 individual cards.

 

Newest Choir Album Features a Hymn Written by President Russell M. Nelson

 
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The Choir’s much-anticipated hymns album is now available for purchase at Deseret Book and DeseretBook.com. Featured on the album is a song called “Our Prayer to Thee” with text written by President Russell M. Nelson in 2003. It was first performed as a hymn in that same year during General Conference, and paired with a tune composed by Joseph Parry.

President Nelson took the time to attend the recording of his hymn in May of 2018. After the recording, he took a few moments to speak to the members of the choir and the Orchestra.

Let Us All Press On features other beloved classics like "All Creatures of Our God and King" and "More Holiness Give Me." The rousing title track, "Let Us All Press On," is a fresh arrangement by Richard Elliott first performed after Russell M. Nelson's historic address by the same name in the spring of 2018. This album makes a great gift for neighbors, missionaries, and friends.

Learn more about the recording.

Sarah Higley

From a young age Sarah Higley has been a creator, inventor and lover of all things entertainment. She finds solace in critiquing movies with her husband and creating vector graphics for her Etsy store. She originates from Salem, Oregon but recently moved to Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband after graduating college.

2019 New Music

Brand new music from incredible artists to uplift and inspire your day. Music can have a powerful influence in our lives and can help us feel the Spirit. These new releases aren’t just for your Sunday worship, but for your every day lives. Pick up a copy for you or as a gift for someone else at DesereBook.com!

 

Let us all Press on, by the tabernacle choir at temple square

The first hymn album from the Choir in seven years, Let Us All Press On features beloved classics such as “All Creatures of Our God and King” and “More Holiness Give Me.” The rousing title track, “Let Us All Press On,” is a fresh arrangement by Richard Elliott first performed after Russell M. Nelson’s historic address by the same name in the spring of 2018.

 

Lamb and lion, by the city of enoch

Lamb & Lion is City of Enoch’s follow-up to their successful debut album Sweet Redeemer. This album marks an exciting new chapter for the band. They use their signature three-part harmonies and catchy melodies to present a brilliant concept album: six peaceful and contemplative songs (the “lamb” half of the album), and six rousing, exciting, and motivating songs (the “lion” half of the album). These two sides of the album mirror two sides of the gospel: it provides deeply personal inner peace and spiritual strength, as well as excitement and motivation to rise to the occasion and help others come to Zion.

 

My Prayer, by Nathan Pacheco

Award-winning tenor Nathan Pacheco’s new album My Prayer is his most powerful offering to date. As the follow-up to his Billboard-charting album Higher, this album continues his exploration of spiritual songs that lift, inspire, and bring peace. My Prayer is an invitation to pause a moment in this frantic world and find deeper spiritual connection and comfort.

 

Jane and Emma Soundtrack, by The Bonner Family

Inspired by the film Jane and Emma, these songs were composed to complement the soundtrack of the film and highlight key themes covered in the film: family unity, reaffirming our true identity as children of God in times of trial, and seeing the grace of God in our lives.

 

Rome, Italy Temple Dedication

The Prophet and the Pope

President Nelson met with Pope Francis on March 9, 2019; the first ever meeting between a Latter-day Saint prophet and prominent leader of the Catholic faith. After the historic meeting in Vatican City, he and Elder Ballard discuss the many commonalities between the two faiths, especially the focus on service and ministering one on one.

My Witness

When President Russell M. Nelson was called to be the prophet, Wendy Nelson received a sure witness for herself that he was indeed called of God to lead the Church in this day. She shares how her unique role has given her insight into how her husband receives messages and revelation from the Lord.

Unity in Rome

Sheri Dew’s behind the scene look into a historic photo taken of all twelve apostles and the first Presidency at the Rome temple teaches us all a lesson about the feelings among the brethren. As the first time that all 15 of these men have been outside of the United States together, the photo op in the rotunda of the visitors’ center at the newly dedicated Rome Italy Temple was an important moment. President Nelson’s desire and interest in a photo of all of the men together show his commitment to and importance of unity from the leadership of the Church.

The Brotherhood of the Brethren

Members of the Twelve Apostles share the love and appreciation they have for each other and emphasize how strong the bond of brotherhood is among the group. President Nelson declares that the Lord had a hand in bringing all 15 members together to the dedication of the Rome Italy Temple.

How a new Christus Statue got to the Rome Italy Temple

Deseret News explores the historical significance of the replica of the Christus statue and original Twelve Apostles now standing at the Rome Italy Temple. Learn how the first replica was brought to Salt Lake City and about the parallels between the original statues in Copenhagen and new display in Rome.

Sarah Higley

From a young age Sarah Higley has been a creator, inventor and lover of all things entertainment. She finds solace in critiquing movies with her husband and creating vector graphics for her Etsy store. She originates from Salem, Oregon but recently moved to Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband after graduating college.