From Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media and Design –
Muralist Megan Lingerfelt of Oak Ridge, Tennessee is a recipient of the FY24 Individual Artist Fellowship in Mural Arts. The Tennessee Arts Commission awards Individual Artist Fellowships annually to recognize and acknowledge outstanding professional Tennessee artists who, through their work, add to the state’s cultural vitality.
Megan Lingerfelt grew up in Western North Carolina and studied drawing and painting at UNC Asheville. In 2010, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A. Soon after, she moved to Seattle and began creating work from her studio. As luck would have it, her studio was in a building that was decked with murals. Intrigued, Lingerfelt spoke with the non-profit organization that painted the building and began volunteering on projects. She fell in love with creating murals by learning how to magnify her paintings on canvas into large-scale brick-and-mortar wall paintings. Since moving to Oak Ridge in 2018, she has continued to teach, exhibit, and work in public art.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, she thought mural commissions would cease. However, Lingerfelt noticed that people were actively seeking ways to engage with their community outdoors or from the safety of their windowed cars. When she thought work would come to a screeching halt, it exploded instead. Not only did she discover the community ready and receptive to mural art, but she also became busy booking and completing commissions. With a fuller schedule, Lingerfelt had to learn how to work more efficiently through weather changes and managing project deadlines. She remarked, “Now I can paint a 15 x 15 foot mural quicker than a 2 x 2 foot canvas.”
Several of Lingerfelt’s murals incorporate bold colors and repetitive patterns. Woven throughout her wall paintings are intersecting lines partnered with organic shapes. Often the viewer can spot botanical references as well. At times, she has been able to share the painting process with her mother, who is also an artist.
Lingerfelt first came to Tennessee in 2010 as a teaching assistant at the Arrowmont School of Art and Craft in Gatlinburg. Since then, she has also been a visiting artist at The Center School (a k-12 school), a teaching artist at Summit Sierra – a public high school), and a contracted artist and production assistant at Urban Artworks (a non-profit arts organization), all located in Seattle, Washington. Returning to Tennessee in 2018, she became a contracted artist and mural coordinator for the Dogwood Arts in Knoxville. Later this year, she anticipates instructing a mural workshop through the Dogwood Arts & Curio Gallery.
In the beginning stage of conceiving a public artwork, Lingerfelt endeavors to “imbue the character of each site into the design so that it may serve as a monument to its location.” In the design stage of a mural, she is goal oriented and conducts preliminary work using a tablet. She then creates the mural using a paint-by-number style, using large paint brushes and rollers. Instead of paint tubes, she has progressed to using gallon paint cans. One surprise from working on walls, Lingerfelt found she adores painting on textured surfaces. She also shared that a new awareness of weather and seasons has become part of her daily routine when planning a mural install schedule. Having adapted to wearing layers of clothing to accommodate temperature and inclement weather changes, Lingerfelt is also experimenting with quicker drying paints to improve the process. She tries to schedule the painting of a mural in the direction an exterior wall is facing. For example, she prefers a north-facing wall in July as it will be in the shade.
Due to unpredictable weather and challenging environmental factors, Lingerfelt understands her murals are not permanent. She documents the completed murals and enjoys seeing people post their images with the murals encompassing the background. For artists interested in creating murals, Lingerfelt says, she knows, “the size of a mural looks intimidating, and it may feel scary to create public art where you have an audience, just know your work helps you engage with the community. The best way to get a mural job is to be seen working on a mural.” She also encourages artists to ask for the design fee portion upfront but don’t ask for the entire amount. Customer satisfaction is extremely important; a customer may make changes during the process that may change the price. A happy customer has often led to more job opportunities.
While living in Seattle, where she discovered her love of creating murals, she created over 15 murals depicting everything from chrysanthemums, and a forest, to a chicken truck and trestle bridge. If you travel around east Tennessee, you may have spotted some of Lingerfelt’s murals. In Knoxville alone, she has painted over 18 murals, some of which include: River Map, 12’x40’ at The Atrium office building, Loose Mountain Landscape, 45’x8’in West Town Mall, Marble City Greenway, 185×10’ with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Window to the Smokies, 50’x12’ for Dogwood Arts, Wild & Native, 8’x16’ for Zoo Knoxville’s Kid’s Cove, and Dolly Parton, a 20’x16’ mural. Driving away from Knoxville, you may see more of her work such as Pipe Maze, 40’x20’ (image included) at Turnkey Plumbing & Construction in Lenoir City, From Our Hands to Yours, 150’x20’ at Lodge Cast Iron in South Pittsburg, Together We Thrive, 100’x20’ at ORNL Federal Credit Union in Oak Ridge, Wave of Lace, 80’x20’ (image above) in Lawrenceburg, Maynardville Splash Pad, 140’x10’ in Maynardville, Magnolias, 50’x20’ in Viola, and Green Clover, 4’ traffic signal box vinyl wrap, for River City Company in Chattanooga among others.
Most recently, Lingerfelt learned about receiving the Individual Artist Fellowship (IAF) award while working on a mural in Tracy City. She says knowing she received the IAF award put a glow to the process of creating the mural. To see more of Lingerfelt’s murals, click here.