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Renowned artist to create large-scale mural in university library

Brenda_Mauney_Councill_t.jpgBOONE—Internationally renowned artist Brenda Mauney Councill has made a career painting large-scale murals in venues across the United States.

Her next project is at Appalachian State University where she will paint a series of murals in the atrium of Carol Grotnes Belk Library and Information Commons.

The project will begin around May 10 and take about 45 days to complete. Working on a scaffold as high as 75 feet, Councill will combine acrylic and water-based paint. She will use trompe l’oeil techniques that result in a three-dimensional effect.

“The mural will interpret the library’s vision, as well as that of donors Carol Grotnes Belk and Irwin Belk,” Councill said. “The creative planning process yielded many drawings from which to choose the central theme ‘The Quest for Knowledge.’ An iconographic relationship of symbols and representational forms will dominate the lower mural, which will be closest to eye level. These will focus on Appalachian’s academic and athletic programs, and be laced with the history of the community of Boone and the university’s continued legacy.”


Brenda Mauney Councill

The design was created with input from Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, University Librarian Mary Reichel, former Appalachian State University Foundation President Jerry Hutchens, and philanthropists Irwin “Ike” and Carol Belk of Charlotte.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this project and this legacy,” Ike Belk said. “The idea of fusing art with illusion is so very unique. We were pleased to have the opportunity to award this project to this talented artist, who after living all over the country, has returned to her roots in North Carolina.”

While she is painting, Councill’s work will be shielded from view by a “false ceiling” that is part of the scaffolding. In addition, the windows of the atrium will be covered until the project is complete to give Councill privacy while she works. A celebration and unveiling of the completed work will be held in July.

The initial idea for the project was suggested by Mrs. Betty Howe of Blowing Rock following the library’s opening in 2005. The Belks immediately offered to fund the project with the help of the university foundation.

Councill, who now resides in Blowing Rock, is a descendent of Jordan Councill who founded Boone in the 1760s. Her aunt Mildred Southwell Councill was head librarian at Appalachian in the 1960s. Her great-great-grandfather, Dr. William B. Councill, was the first physician in Watauga County.

Brenda Councill grew up in Jacksonville, Fla. Her career was launched in 1963 at the age of 7 with a debut exhibition of paintings at the Jacksonville Museum of Arts and Sciences. She gave her first sculpture exhibit at age 11 and was featured on NBC’s “Today Show” at age 17.

Her early career as a professional artist focused on large-scale sculpture, etchings and engraved prints. She turned to large-scale murals, domed ceilings and theme rooms in the late 1980s when a downturn in the economy meant few corporations were adding sculptures to their collections. Friends, who are architects, suggested murals as an alternative.

“I decided to shift gears,” she said of her current passion. Her murals can be found in corporate buildings, hospitals and prestigious private residences. It is not unusual for Councill to work with clients for months on planning and executing these signature interiors. She continues to work in conjunction with renowned architects and interior designers to execute extraordinary architectural masterpieces that have garnered international acclaim.

Councill has owned galleries and maintained studios in New York, Georgia and Florida. She has had solo and group exhibitions in Milan, Italy, California, Florida, Georgia, New York and Maine.

Her work is in the corporate collections of DuPont, AT&T, Credit Suisse, British Airways and The Canadian Imperial Bank. Private collectors include gallery owner Roberta Von Schlossberg, film producer Sydney Kimmel, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Adams, Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos, former professional baseball player Brett Butler and actress Joely Fisher.