Minerva Teichert, 1949-1951
At first glance, this scene appears to be a celebration of innocence and purity—beautiful Lamanite maidens adorned in white dresses and floral leis dance along the shimmering water’s edge. But a closer examination exposes an ominous situation. The sinister priests emerge– a faceless evil– to abduct their victims. Their operation continues quickly and quietly. The maidens in front are unaware of what is happening behind them. Nor do they notice a man about to capture one of them. Another priest creeps through the bushes on the left to grab the legs of his unsuspecting victim. Tension is heightened by the backdrop of both foliage and volcanic mountains, which allow no room for the maidens’ escape. (Book of Mormon: Mosiah 20:1-5)
What’s Going On?
Several young, dark haired women dance near a pool that spans the foreground. They wear sleeveless white dresses and have red flower garlands. Several women on the right have water baskets on their heads. The women in the immediate front reflect in the pool of water directly in front of them. Several men are behind the women and are approaching, beginning to grab them. In the background there is a large mountain with trees and shrubbery.
More About Teichert
In the early 1950s, Teichert painted a series of forty-two murals representing Book of Mormon themes. Of her murals she said, “They do not need frames. I put them on the walls with a half inch wood binding.” She planned to hang them “in story form” so that the narrative of the Book of Mormon was easily understood. (“Minerva Teichert: Pageants in Paint” Exhibition, 7/26/07-5/26/08)
Teichert owned a red-bound book with photographs of figures in various “attitudes.” These poses were prominent in dramatic presentations in the early twentieth century. The stylized gestures formed part of the popular Delsarte System of Expression introduced to America in 1871 by Steele MacKaye, a pupil of Francois Delsarte (1811-1871), the French inventor of the system.