Pageants in Paint

BYU Museum of Art hosts Minerva Teichert mural exhibit

PROVO, Utah — Even Church members who would say they can't distinguish an oil painting from a watercolor are likely familiar with the distinctive style of LDS artist Minerva Teichert.

Sister Teichert's work has graced the covers of Church manuals, added aesthetic ambiance to the walls of the Manti Temple and divined rich episodes of the Book of Mormon long before color cinema. Along the way, she became an icon to many contemporary LDS artists eager to share testimony though paint and clay.

The 47 large-scale narrative murals on exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art include several "pageant" images that capture scenes from scripture and the American West. Included is "Return of Captive Israel."
The 47 large-scale narrative murals on exhibit at BYU’s Museum of Art include several “pageant” images that capture scenes from scripture and the American West. Included is “Return of Captive Israel.” Credit: Images courtesy of BYU/MOA

"Minerva Teichert: Pageants in Paint," a major exhibit at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art, offers visitors the story of the artist and the visual culture that influenced her familiar, faith-promoting work.

When Sister Teichert attended art school in Chicago and New York in the early 1900s, mural paintings and theatrical pageants were dynamic components of American popular culture, according to the museum. This artist embraced these art forms. She utilized such canvas pageantry to tell the stories of her religious heritage and the American West she loved.

BYU's exhibit — which runs through next May — includes 47 of Sister Teichert's large-scale narrative murals stretched across several galleries.

"This is a new approach to looking at Minerva Teichert's work," said Marian Wardle, curator of American art at the museum. "I hope visitors don't get the idea that this is the only way to look at her work because her work can be examined and interpreted in many different ways.

"But the influence of mural paintings and pageantry is one important element that I think will cause people to look at her paintings in a different light."

Highlights in the exhibit include imagery from the Mormon Pioneer experience. Sister Teichert's "Miracle of the Gulls" suggests the connection between the pioneers, their faith and their burgeoning settlement in the Salt Lake Valley. Other pioneer "pageants" explore the travelers' arrival in their new land of inheritance and the agrarian tasks shared by man and beast.

Sister Teichert's religious work is also well represented, including familiar moments from the Book of Mormon and the Bible.

The 47 large-scale narrative murals on exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art include several "pageant" images that capture scenes from scripture and the American West. Included is "Escape of King Limhi and His People."
The 47 large-scale narrative murals on exhibit at BYU’s Museum of Art include several “pageant” images that capture scenes from scripture and the American West. Included is “Escape of King Limhi and His People.” Credit: Image courtesy of BYU/MOA

A series of lectures at the museum will be held in conjunction with the exhibit. Tours are also offered, including a family-oriented tour on Monday evenings. Call the museum at (801) 422-1140 for more information.

The BYU Museum of Art is located on the BYU Provo campus at 1230 North Campus Drive.

Pioneer-themed images such as "Get Ye Up into the High Mountain" represent monumental moments in Church history for museum visitors.
Pioneer-themed images such as “Get Ye Up into the High Mountain” represent monumental moments in Church history for museum visitors. Credit: Image courtesy of BYU/MOA
The 47 large-scale narrative murals on exhibit at BYU's Museum of Art include several "pageant" images that capture scenes from scripture and the American West. Included is "Indian Basket and Pottery Makers."
The 47 large-scale narrative murals on exhibit at BYU’s Museum of Art include several “pageant” images that capture scenes from scripture and the American West. Included is “Indian Basket and Pottery Makers.” Credit: Image courtesy of BYU/MOA
Pioneer-themed images such as "Miracle of the Gulls" represent monumental moments in Church history for museum visitors.
Pioneer-themed images such as “Miracle of the Gulls” represent monumental moments in Church history for museum visitors. Credit: Image courtesy of BYU/MOA