Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Lamanite Daughters" - Minerva Teichert

Minerva Teichert’s painting “Lamanite Daughters” exhibits profound movement and excitement coupled with vibrant color. With a broad spectrum of Teichert’s Book of Mormon work, one can readily tell she was heavily influenced by Art Nouveau – with her expressive and stylized curvilinear figures. One can’t but help to critique realistic and historical qualities in her work. However, it is important to note that she was very imaginative and she was secluded on ranch in Wyoming. We as viewers must learn to appreciate her work, not for its historical accuracy, but for its power in story-telling and evoking emotion. I don’t think Teichert readily declared her paintings to be perfect documentaries of the Book of Mormon time period.

The setting is in a lush green tropical forest with exotic looking plants surrounding a river opening. The Lamanite women in this piece are moving gleefully by the river. Their dark skin is offset by brilliant white dresses which look more typical of the early 1900’s rather than an ancient American people. They carry strings of scarlet red flowers. Their gestures and poses seem somewhat staged as if they stood together in a studio or in a pageant.

Perhaps Teichert took to heart the mentioning of the beautiful and “fair” daughters of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon text. Rather than an often ignorant and immoral persona that comes across as Lamanites, Teichert glorifies their beauty and innocence. She recognized the importance of womanhood, and painted these Lamanite daughters as joyful and confident.

It is assumed that this setting precedes the horrible kidnappings that occurred by the hands of the wicked priests of Noah. I felt that Teichert exemplified virtue in this piece. The white dresses and red flowers all exemplify this principle. Teichert focused on the preciousness and frailness of human virtue, by sharply contrasting it, figuratively, with the unfortunate onslaught which was about to take place. That oncoming event would destroy such virtue which Moroni described later as “most dear and precious above all things” (Mor. 9:9).

Although Teichert’s work seems isolated from scholarly perspectives, her true beliefs—strengthened by her feminine personality and exuberant imagination—shine forth through this painting. I believe in some way that that kind of work which shows inner faith is more true to life than work which merely stays realistically accurate. This is the great power of expressive art.

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