About the Artist

Photo of artist


Michael Lehnardt is a senior at Brigham Young University, majoring in Illustration and Zoology. His future career may be in medicine or art or some undiscovered field. His mother notes that Michael has always seen with the eyes of an artist-- filling his kindergarten drawings with extraordinary details, building sand cities instead of sand castles, and creating his own unique characters.

Michael came to paint this amazing 26' 6" X 8' mural through an assignment for an Illustration for Children course in which he was enrolled. His original rough sketch was based on Raphael's School of Athens and contained a dozen or more widely recognized characters from Curious George to Max and a wild thing. As the mural evolved, the use of copyrighted characters was replaced with the artist's own depictions of well-loved characters from traditional rhymes, stories, and children's books and with everyday readers and seekers of knowledge.

He asked family and friends to pose for photographs in order to get proper details from muscle extension to drape of cloth. He consulted dozens of books and Internet sources for information on everything from the colors used in Renaissance clothing to the shape and color of a female spotted owl. He hung posters, tree branches, reproductions of master art works, and even a dried banana skin in the studio. He studied the scriptures. He sought advice from other artists, friends, teachers, and librarians. He found inspiration in nature; in the works of Dürer, Michelangelo, Raphael, and others; and in his own contemplation of the impressions this mural would have on those who saw it.

During the eight months of painting, Michael explored the concept of sight--different ways of seeing and understanding. The result of the artist's efforts is a mural layered with meaning.

Michael admits that he is attracted to illustration because he wants to draw people and the world the way they really are, but he masterfully blends reality and fantasy in his mural, which beckons the viewer to step inside and become part of the story. The details of the mural, its stories and its symbols, invite each of us to see, to explore, and to remember.

June 2002


For more information about the artist and the mural
we invite you to checkout the documentary
“Come Now, And Let Us Reason Together” from the LRC,
call number VC 1174, or to visit BYU Broadcasting at


Harold B. Lee Library