Art major's Chapel mural educates, inspires

Release Date: 2/4/2010

Clarksville, Ark. --- University of the Ozarks student Angela Teeter has been an artist most of her life, but she had never painted anything larger than a few feet wide when she was asked last summer by university officials to paint a large-scale wall mural in the college's historic Munger Chapel.

What might have been a daunting task to most students left Teeter feeling surprisingly at ease and confident. In January she completed the painting on the 13 x 7 foot wall in Angell Hall, the primary classroom and meeting space located in the basement of the Chapel.

Art major Angela Teeter adds the finishing touches to the chapel mural.“I personally felt like God had prepared me to paint this,” said Teeter, a senior art major from Clarksville. “It was not intimidating at all; it was very exciting. The whole thing happened so quickly, and came together so easily, that I know God used me as an instrument.”

University Chaplain Rev. Nancy Benson-Nicol said she had been trying to find someone to liven up the bland wall in Angell Hall for years. As she got to know Teeter’s artistic talents as well her strong faith, the chaplain knew she finally had the right person for the job. The Rev. Benson-Nicol gave Teeter the title of Chapel Fellow of the Arts and then handed her free reign to create anything she wanted.

“Familiar with the intriguing mixture of whimsy and depth that characterizes Angela’s work, I was really excited to invite her to do a commissioned piece,” said The Rev. Benson-Nicol said. “I was curious about would happen when her imagination and a big blank wall would meet. I knew it would be ‘good,’ perhaps even ‘great,’ but the profound theological depth and beauty that emerges from the piece as you experience it far exceeded my expectations.”

Teeter said she derived inspiration for the mural from a book she had recently read called Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler. The book explores the primary names and titles of God in the Old Testament to reveal the deeper meanings behind them.

“The more that I’ve learned and studied about the Hebrew roots in Christianity, the closer I’ve become to God and the stronger my faith has become,” Teeter said. “I wanted to do a painting that was aesthetically pleasing, but that also was spiritually educational for people. I wanted to do something bold, but not offensive, a piece that showed the different names of God and to get people thinking about what they mean.”

Teeter completed the artwork in about two months and was pleasantly surprised how quickly it came together.

“I felt energized throughout the whole process,” she said. “I kind of had a general idea of what I wanted it to look like, but as an artist you have to let the painting develop on its own. I have no doubt that God prepared me to do this and worked through me to complete it.”

The Rev. Benson-Nicol agreed that Teeter’s artwork “is clearly the product of prayer in action in its adoration of the Holy One.”

“It is a gift of the Spirit, through Angela’s hands, that will be given to others for generations to come,” she said.

Teeter’s artwork is generally characterized by bold colors and is often figurative. She said her style is heavily influenced by the contemporary “Pop-surrealist” movement that has gained popularity on the West Coast in recent years.

She said working on the Chapel mural has sparked a new interest in her.

“It’s definitely made me want to do bigger paintings,” she said. “I’ve always done smaller paintings and this was a little out of my comfort zone. But I’ve learned that it forced me to be a little more experimental and creative.”

Teeter will have much of her artwork on display during a senior exhibit in May before starting a career in the profession that she hopes includes teaching art on the college level.

“I want to work with students who have a passion for art like I do,” she said. “But I also want to continue to paint because that’s what I truly love to do.”

The finished mural.