A New Art Movement with Social Impact: “Totalityism”

“How a $7-Yard-Sale Painting (now priced at $1 million) Helped Trigger a New Art Movement to Abandon Attitudes and Actions of Prejudice.”

It all started with a dusty $7-yard sale painting

Art is a thrilling and vital part of life. It arouses feelings of intensity; it inspires, instructs, reproves, and adds vitality, enjoyment, and meaning to life. Yet, a dusty and neglected monochrome painting I encountered at a yard sale years ago was none of that. As a second-generation artist raised with a paintbrush in my hand by my dad (the PBS television artist Buck Paulson), I paid $7 for the painting, took it to my studio, and transformed it in the “drip” style of Jackson Pollock (1912-1956). Surprisingly, the transformation of the painting helped to later spark my imagination to develop a new art movement.

Me at age 3, raised with a paintbrush in my hand (photo by Carolyn Paulson).

Today I am advancing the developing art movement through the ministry context of Totality Ministries, not a church but a non-profit organization I formed to promote the work through articles, podcasts, and books, and initially, through the Peace, Love, and Unity Pledge I wrote and invite people to sign.

By the way, the price of the transformed painting (pictured at the top of this article) is a whopping $1 million which helps bring attention to the developing art movement and its mission. The painting is titled Rise from the Dust because that is literally what it did.

What the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize has to do with this

In April 2023, Morehouse College awarded its inaugural Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize to Russell M. Nelson, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church I belong to. In presenting the award, Rev. Dr. Lawrence Carter, Sr. of Morehouse College stated that President Nelson has reached out to all races, moving outside the box to make inroads and to create peace between all races with radical inclusivity.[1]

The awarding of the Peace Prize, along with the following plea to the church by President Nelson informs and inspired me to lean the art movement toward helping with the problem of racism, a societal, institutional, and omnipresent phenomenon that pervades our reality:[2] 

“…Let us lead out in abandoning attitudes
and actions of prejudice.” -Russell M. Nelson


As part of my research, I visited Morehouse College to learn more about the Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize.

My project and research process

In response to President Nelson’s plea, my Doctor of Ministry project at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology includes a final paper with the following title:

“How a Small Art Studio in Utah Can Help Lead Out in Abandoning
Attitudes and Actions of Prejudice in the U.S. through Creating a
new Art Movement to Promote Greater Peace, Love, and Unity.”

An art movement can be defined as a style of art with a specific objective and philosophy followed by a group of artists during a specific period.[3] Famous art movements over time include Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Modernism, and many other “isms.” Totalityism merges art with Christ-centered theology for social impact, with the art stylistically created boldly with a textured surface, illustrative of boldly confronting prejudice.

As I researched art history, I discovered many inspiring artists who have used art for social impact. For example, I was pleased to find that the famous Norman Rockwell utilized his art to bring attention to social issues and advocate change. In fact, I copied part of his painting, The Problem We All Live With, which deals with the ugliness of racism. I followed it with an article and a podcast episode to invite people to take action to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice.

My copy of Norman Rockwell’s The Problem We All Live With (36″x36″)

I was inspired when I learned that the artist Romare Bearden (1911 to 1988) helped bring together 15 African American artists in 1963 to consider how to help impact the civil rights movement through art. The group was called Spiral, with the Archimedean spiral as its symbol.[4]

Romare Bearden (photo by Marvin Newman).

The Totality painting I created (36”x36”).


Like Bearden, I chose a symbol to represent my art for social impact—Totality (as in a total solar eclipse). For me, Totality exhibits unity (between the sun and moon), peace falls upon the earth during totality, and the corona appearing around the moon symbolizes the power of love, all integral to the art movement.


I refer to Totalityism as “a new ministry practice” that consists of the following:

  1. I paint a new painting or bring one of my previously completed paintings to light. Over time, other artists will join me with their art to help develop the art movement. My paintings can be seen at www.PaulsonArtShow.com.
  2. I identify a message in the painting about Christ and how it can help abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice.
  3. The paintings draw attention to articles I write (my articles are at www.Medium.com) and podcast episodes I record (found at www.TotalityismPodcast.com) to further advance the movement, which presently includes inviting people to take the action of signing The Peace, Love, and Unity Pledge that I wrote.

Ministering through The Peace, Love, and Unity Pledge

I use the term “ministering” as defined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as “learning of and attending to others’ needs, doing the Lord’s work, acting as Jesus Christ’s agents to watch over, lift, and strengthen those around us.”[5] As I have learned of others’ needs, the art movement is about doing the Lord’s work in lifting and strengthening the oppressed and marginalized by helping to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice in the U.S.

The “Peace, Love, & Unity Pledge” I wrote.

The Peace, Love, and Unity Pledge can be signed at www.Totalityism.com and is just the first of many ministering initiatives Totalityism will help advance.

Findings and Future Implications

My ministry through art will evolve and grow with experience. By attempting to lead out as President Russell M. Nelson requested, I have made discoveries, including that while many are supportive of this work, some good people are silent, defensive, and uncomfortable talking about race because they feel it is a taboo subject. Though scores of people have already signed the Peace, Love, and Unity Pledge, the number falls far short of what I expected. However, I am encouraged because it is just the start of the work I will do. There are many more paintings to paint, articles to write, podcasts to record, and ministering to do. My transformation of the $7-yard-sale painting into a $1 million piece of art, along with the developing art movement, serves as the vehicle to help capture attention, start conservations, and point people to Christ to encourage as many as possible to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice in the U.S.

Me with my painting Yearning to Breathe Free (48″x72″), a painting in the art movement.


Suggested Resource:

TotalityX: The Art of Becoming All God Created You to Be by Timothy Paulson. This book features 16 pieces of art, each revealing a unique and sometimes surprising success principle that helps the reader become what God created them to be. The “X” in the title is the Greek letter “chi,” which is an abbreviation for Christ. The art and the book are about becoming total, complete, even everything God created you to be with Christ as the ultimate catalyst. This book is ecumenical and helps promote unity among different faith groups.

The book is available by clicking here.


                  [1] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints newsroom, “The Prophet Receives Gandhi-King-Mandela Peace Prize,” accessed November 16, 2023, from https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/the-prophet-receives-gandhi-king-mandela-peace-prize.

                  [2] Robin DeAngelo, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (Boston: Beacon Press, 2018), 72.

                  [3] Vernon Hyde Minor, Art History’s History (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001), 128.

                  [4] Birmingham Museum of Art, accessed November 20, 2023, from https://www.artsbma.org/exhibition/spiral-perspectives-on-an-african-american-art-collective.

[5] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Ministering.” Accessed September 16, 2023.  www.ministering.lds.org.

4 Replies to “A New Art Movement with Social Impact: “Totalityism””

  1. Kendall Soulen

    Dear Timothy,
    Congratulations on an inspiring blog. I’m very impressed by the passion and energy that you have invested in this project from the very beginning. Your openness to suggestion, eagerness for feedback, and readiness to revise have been truly exceptional. I pray God may bless your ministry in art!
    Kendall Soulen

    • Timothy Paulson

      Thank you very much, Dr. Soulen. As my doctoral project advisor, I so appreciate all of your help throughout my project. Thank you for your prayers for the success of my ministry in art.


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