August 28, 2017
Minerva Teichert (1888-1976), Self-Portrait, 1937, graphite, 10 5/8 x 8 3/4 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1937.
Minerva Teichert was born on this day in 1888. One of the most recognizable names in the world of LDS art, Minerva Teichert was born in n North Odgen, Utah, the daughter of Idaho farmers and granddaughter of Mormon pioneers.
Teichert’s first introduction to fine art came as her worked as a nursemaid in San Francisco. While there, she visited the Mark Hopkins School of Art, which opened her eyes to the world of art. After she graduated from high school, Teichert passed the Idaho state teaching exam, and taught in rural schools for several years, while she sent money to her father who was on an LDS mission, and saved to go to art school.
She entered the Chicago Art Institute in 1908, with aspirations to be a water colorist, but was soon swept up in the prevailing emphasis on murals. Emphasis was put on studying the human figure, and Minerva, studying with John H. Vanderpoel, became an excellent draftsman. She studied at the Art Institute until 1912. Whenever she ran out of money, she would return to Idaho to teach school and save.
In 1915, she went to New York City to continue her training at the Art Students League. There, she received a scholarship to study with one of the most influential American painters of the early twentieth century, Robert Henri. In 1916 Robert Henri said to Minerva, “Has anyone ever told your great Mormon story?” “Not to suit me,” she answered. “Good Heavens, girl,” he said, “What a chance. You do it…that’s your birthright. You feel it. You’ll do it well.” This, to Minerva, was the beginning of her life’s work. “I felt that I had been commissioned,” she wrote later.
Teichert’s style is expressive and hearkens back slightly to the Impressionist movement, what with the quick, light brushstrokes. Teichert’s love of color is apparent, as most of her paintings are in vivid colors, each brushstroke in different colors. While in school, Teichert became enamored of the mural painting, feeling that the scale was perfect for the kind of artwork she wanted to create. Teichert is also known for painting on decorative borders around her paintings, which borders may also have special significance to the subject of the painting.