Ceiling mural crowns ASU's new education building

Article Published: May. 19, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Ceiling mural crowns ASU's new education building

Brenda Councill is finishing work on a ceiling mural for ASU's new College of Education building.

Photo submitted

Education doesn't start with a book and end with a diploma - it's an ongoing process of discovery and enlightenment that lasts a lifetime.

That's the message of a dramatic circular ceiling mural crowning the two-story entry foyer of the new College of Education building on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone.

Created by renowned artist Brenda Mauney Councill and commissioned by philanthropists Irwin and Carol Belk of Charlotte, the mural is being completed this summer in time for the scheduled building opening in August.

It is 24 feet in diameter and almost 30 feet above the ground, and it features a combination of copper sculptural elements plus trompe l'oeil painting, a sophisticated technique that produces the optical illusion of three dimensions.

"Education is a timeless constant that distinguishes humankind across all cultures and all countries - it has been pursued throughout history and will be pursued as long as we exist," Councill said. "My objective is to use the communicative language of symbols to open a conversation with viewers about the value, meaning, and inspiration of gaining knowledge."

Painting on a ceiling is a unique challenge with little room for error. It requires considerable and careful planning throughout, from multiple advance sketches to difficult and detailed work done atop scaffolding while standing or lying high above the ground.

"The College of Education is a landmark building for our campus, and it deserves a distinctive artistic signature that visitors can enjoy today, as well as for generations to come," said Dr. Charles Duke, dean of the Reich College of Education. "This ceiling mural certainly adds an important and distinctive dimension to the interior environment."

It is the second major mural on the Appalachian State campus by Councill. Her massive ceiling and wall work, titled "Quest for Knowledge," was completed in 2006 and caps the soaring 85-foot, five-story atrium in the $50 million Belk Library and Information Commons. That mural was also funded by the Belks.

Councill has created spectacular ceiling art works on other campuses, including at the North Carolina Research Campus, the largest painted dome in the southeast, which, at 38 feet in diameter and 21 feet in height, covers 2,650 square feet and is the focal point of a five-story entry atrium - funded by philanthropist David H. Murdock, CEO of Dole Food Company, and at Presbyterian College in South Carolina, the impressive "Spiral of Life" ceiling mural on the subject of biology in the Belk Atrium - funded by Mr. and Mrs. Belk.

During her distinguished career of more than 30 years, Councill has also created murals, paintings, and sculptures for corporate collections - at companies like AT&T, DuPont, CSX Transportation and Credit Suisse - as well as for private collections, including those of baseball star John Smoltz and the late actress Greta Garbo.

For more information on Councill, visit http://www.councill.net.

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