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Artwork of the Week

Artwork of the Week: Sketch With Interior View

black and white pencil drawing on paper
Ella Peacock (1905-1999), "Sketch with Interior View, graphite," no date, 5 1/4 x 12 3/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Ella Peacock, 1993.

Before the emergence of computer-assisted design/drafting (CAD), there was pencil on paper. This was Ella Peacock’s world. In an interview conducted by Dr. Sharon Gray, Peacock recounted her career in drafting—the practice of visually describing and communicating the design and operation of objects, circuits, plans, or technologies through a precise and prescribed set of rules. The moment reveals the impressive breadth of Peacock’s oft-overlooked accomplishments in drafting at a time when, as Susan Larson Mumford notes, most drafters were men:

“Also, I [Ella Peacock] worked for mural painter and illustrator George Harding. Then I got a bit sidetracked, took a short drafting course, and had numerous drafting jobs, became a senior draftsman and engineering technician. I liked the work, but should have quit sooner and gone back to painting. I did pressure-vessel, architectural, and electrical drafting, designed and drew up changes to a warehouse for the purpose of manufacturing the Poseidon missile body. Worked on electrical diagram for the sea-going Voice of America. Was offered a job by Bell Laboratories to work on the communications satellite.”

While Peacock frames her work in drafting as a detour from her pursuit of painting, the pressure vessels, electrical diagrams, and warehouse alterations that the artist drafted attest to a talent and experience that deserve to be taken seriously today. In this cutaway view of one pressure vessel, specifically a shell and tube heat exchanger, Peacock used the graphite of her pencil to suggest the metallic sheen and curvature of the cylindrical vessel. The surrounding blank space decontextualizes this pressure vessel from the heavy-duty industrial environment in which it would have likely been situated, allowing the viewer to focus instead on the pipes, tubes, and plates that helped transfer heat between two fluids to either create steam (and thus generate power, such as for a steam engine) or assist in the refining process.

For more information, see Susan Larson Mumford, ed., “Ella Gilmer Smyth Peacock: Spring City’s Resident Saint,” in Worth Their Salt Too: More Notable But Often Unnoted Women of Utah (Logan: Utah State University Press, 2000), 305; 175-176. The MOA is grateful to Dale Tree, Chris Mattson, and Carl Sorensen at the BYU Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as David Pixton and Greg Nelson at the Harold B. Lee Library, for their input.

Past Artworks of the Week

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Artwork of the Week: The Blind Man at the Pool of Siloam

September 25, 2023
The Gospel of John contains 7 signs or miracles, and the healing of the blind man at the Pool of Siloam is the 6th.
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Artwork of the Week: Lazy Autumn

September 18, 2023
In 1939, Dixon and his wife built a home in Mt. Carmel, Utah. Here they admired the natural landscape of the area until his death in 1946. This quintessentially Utahn scene portrays Native Americans as part of the natural landscape.
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Artwork of the Week: Sunset, Hudson River

September 11, 2023
As we anticipate the transition from the blistering of summer heat to the crispness of fall, let us celebrate a painting in which the sun itself retreats into the autumn leaves.
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