A biographical sketch of artist John B. Fairbanks, this thesis primarily probes Fairbanks' evolution as an artist. From amateur, to art missionary, to professional artist, Fairbanks influenced his cultural surroundings in Utah and in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His commitment to his career and his impact on others significantly affected Utah and Mormon art. Thus it is important to understand and recognize the full portrait of John B. Fairbanks.
John B. Fairbanks, born on 27 December 1855, developed an interest in art while still young. Until reaching the age of thirty-four, he often worked as an amateur artist, eager to one day receive professional training. Although a difficult career path to follow, he maintained his focus on art and hoped for future opportunities in this field.
In 1890, Fairbanks learned that he, along with artists John Hafen and Lorus Pratt, and later Edwin Evans and Herman Haag, would be subsidized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to study art at the Académie Julian in Paris, France, in order to prepare them to paint murals in the Salt Lake Temple. As an art missionary, Fairbanks developed a more complete understanding of art and embraced the process of becoming an artist.
Upon returning to Utah from Paris, Fairbanks helped paint murals in the Salt Lake Temple. Following this unique privilege, he worked as a professional artist. During this phase of his life, he had the opportunity to teach various students, most importantly, his sons J. Leo and Avard. In addition, Fairbanks created several substantial works and helped influence the cultural environment of the Church and the state of Utah.