Surrounded by his family, friends and former academic advisor Dr. Carl Gombert, Brian Reid ’16 unveiled the Maryville College mural that he painted as part of his Senior Study.
The work, which had been painted on a large portable canvas, was installed on March 6 onto the wall next to Fayerweather Hall’s first-floor Admissions Office. The mural took more than a year to complete and features notable scenes from around the campus and several recognizable MC students.
“It feels like I’m getting somewhere as an artist,” Reid said with a smile as he stood back to admire his recently installed work.
“For my Senior Study, I was originally planning to do an LGBTQ campaign through painting,” said Reid, who is from Acworth, Ga. “[MC Professor of Art] Dr. Gombert just approached me one day and asked me about taking on the Maryville College mural project.”
The two later met with Cyndi Sweet, executive director for admissions and financial aid at Maryville College, to discuss the placement and content of the mural.
“I think the original idea for the mural was hers,” Reid said.
When discussing the content of the mural, Reid said he was told by Sweet to “paint whatever inspires you.”
Heeding her words, Reid began selecting aspects of the College that had been influential during his time as a student. He also had to be mindful of the dimensions of the wall on which the mural would be installed, as well as the television monitor that is in the center of the wall.
“I wanted to create a circular composition in the painting,” said Reid, explaining that this method naturally draws the viewer’s eye to each scene. “The history of the College, in general, is centered around Anderson Hall, so I placed the building in the center of the mural.”
He chose to base the paintings off of photographs, some of which Reid captured himself.
“I would literally go outside, set up my camera and take photos of campus buildings and tour scenes,” Reid said.
Reid recalled standing on a ladder in front of the well-known Anderson Hall, the centerpiece of his mural, to get the best possible photograph.
When the photos were finished, Reid combined over 20 images of the most iconic aspects of Maryville College – including a prospective student tour scene, a classroom setting featuring several current MC students and the well-known professor emeritus Mark Hall; several bagpipers; an MC Concert Choir member and members of two sports teams – to create the finished product.
“I actually arranged a photo shoot with this group,” said Reid as he pointed to the painted classroom setting that features several recognizable students in a Thaw Hall classroom. “This scene is based on one of the photos I took then.
“I actually merged the desks from Sutton with the windows from Thaw to create this scene,” he added with a laugh.
The only words on the mural, “Do Good on the Largest Possible Scale,” are written on a classroom blackboard and reference the motto of Maryville College’s founder, Isaac Anderson.
During the unveiling process on March 6, a group of alumni stopped to admire the newly installed mural and inquired about the representation of only two of MC’s sports teams in the mural.
In response, Gombert asked Reid a series of rhetorical questions.
“What was the first men’s sport offered at MC?” Gombert asked Reid.
“Baseball,” Reid answered as he pointed to the baseball player in the mural. “And basketball was the first women’s sport at the College,” he continued, directing his gaze to the painted girl mid jump-shot.
He then explained that the baseball player was depicted in jersey number 18 and the basketball player in number 19 to represent the college’s founding year, 1819.
“I hope prospective students who pass by the mural on their way to the admissions office notice the tour scene and the chair I intentionally left empty in the classroom scene and think ‘this could be me,’” Reid said. “I want them to know that they are capable of doing anything they want to do—especially if they come to this school.”
Gombert then scolded Reid jokingly.
“I told you what to say to people who ask what they should take away from the painting,” Gombert said. “Tell them that you hope they leave it here.”
“I think I was chosen to take on such an extensive project because my professors knew that I had already completed several large projects before,” Reid said. “It’s really easy to get lazy in the middle of a project, but I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
When he is not working on art commissions, Reid is often traveling.
A few years ago, Reid created his own clothing line, EquilizerCo., which features his artwork. Passionate about LGBTQ advocacy, Reid travels to pride parades around the country, selling his oil paintings and t-shirts under the title of “The Pride Artist.”
“I had a really intense tour last year,” Reid said. “I’ve learned a lot about patience and what I’m capable of.”
Reid is also adding a new piece to the collection of work he has for sale – he is offering special edition prints of the Maryville College mural, which he will be selling at the MC Bookstore, as well as on his Facebook page, facebook.com/BrianReidFineArt.
For more information or to contact Reid, visit his Facebook page or his website, theprideartist.com.