Local artist paints free hand mural on campus

By Madeline Alvarez, Sports Editor

The staff of Newman’s Campus Ministry Office has been making changes to the space since last semester. Over Christmas break, a new piece of art was added to the walls of the gathering room in the office: a mural of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The Campus Ministry Office unveiled the new addition to the Newman community last Friday and celebrated by serving pancakes and coffee to attendees.

Assistant Director to Campus Ministry Emily Simon said that she found the mural’s artist, Heather Byers, through a mutual friend.

University Chaplain Father Adam Grelinger said that he was impressed with the drawing of Our Lady Undoer of Knots, which Byers presented to Campus Ministry as a preview before beginning work on the mural. The finished product, Grelinger said, exceeded his expectations.

“It really brightens the room,” Grelinger said. “When the sun hits it, it lights the whole room up.”

Grelinger said that Campus Ministry wanted this particular image of Mary displayed on the wall to remind students that she is always praying for them.

“There are many knots in our lives and Mary cares about those knots and wants to help us undo them, so she prays…before the throne of God to undo these knots,” Grelinger said. “Hopefully it will kind of be a reminder to students that we can turn to Mary for her intercession.”

Byers, a local artist and business owner, said she has been working on big painting projects for six years but that she has been an artist for much longer.

Byers said she used eight reference photos for inspiration for the mural, one of which was the original image of Our Lady Undoer of Knots painted by Johann Melchoir Georg Schmittdner in 1700. She worked on the project for about 25 hours over the course of two weeks, she said.

Byers said she did not draw the image on the wall before painting it.

“I just came here and started painting on the wall,” she said. “I don’t try to draw anything out or try to plan it…I just kind of get started and work with it as it goes until I’m happy with it.”

Byers said that, even though she’s not Catholic, she didn’t see any reason not to work on this project.

“Although I’m not Catholic, I am still Christian, and so Mary as a meaningful to me as well,” she said. “I don’t have any reason not to just because of slightly differing views on different things.”

Byers said her day job is running her business called Feather B where she makes stuffed animals and sells them in Kansas and Oklahoma. She takes up painting jobs whenever she can and has worked on murals in the Douglas Design District, North End Neighborhood, and a few projects for private companies and people.

“I just slowly kind of started out doing my own thing, and I’ve just been building on that since,” Byers said.

Byers can be found on Instagram at 2dheatherb. Her company Feather B has a Facebook page under that name.

PHOTO: Madeline Alvarez, Sports Editor