Tennessee is 440 miles across with six very different geographical regions – plains, plateau, basin, valleys, ridges and mountains. Even when discussing visual arts in the state, the distance and differences often overshadow the conversation. Before advances in transportation, the rugged and varied terrain and elevations separated the state’s people and products. It still does, say Vanessa Mayoraz and Andrew Ross, ETSU Art & Design faculty members who have curated a new-year exhibition titled Along the Horizon: Contemporary Drawing in Tennessee, on display at East Tennessee State University’s Reece Museum Jan. 16 through Feb. 23 and at Slocumb Galleries through Feb. 16.
“As soon as you say you’re going to do something that’s going to connect all Tennessee, all [artists] talk about is how different it is,” Ross says. “While picking up the artwork, I found that the artists themselves were making clear differentiations between the regions, where they were and where other artists are … But one thing that was also very clear is that everyone would say that they feel very disconnected.”
So the two ETSU art professors decided to close the gap a bit with a Tennessee drawing exhibition. “We thought it would be very nice to come together over the idea of drawing and sort of bringing Tennessee together through a medium,” says Ross, assistant professor of drawing.
Visual artists featured in Along the Horizon are: Ben Butler, Memphis; Nick DeFord, Knoxville; Althea Murphy-Price, Knoxville; Rob Matthews, Nashville; Joel Parsons, Memphis; Jonathan Adams, Johnson City; Paula Kovarik, Memphis; Dawn Martin Dickins, Clarksville; P.A. Turner, Telford; Wade Guyton, formerly Knoxville/ currently in New York; John Hilton, Johnson City; Denise Stewart-Sanabria, Knoxville; and Richard A. Lou, Memphis. Adams and Hilton are ETSU Art & Design alumni, while Lou is chair of the Department of Art at University of Memphis and DeFord is program director at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.
Lou will also serve on a panel that will convene Thursday, Feb. 15, at 5:30 p.m. in Ball Hall room 127 to discuss drawing as a medium and drawing in Tennessee. Joining him, says Ross, will be Knoxville artist Stewart-Sanabria and Stephen Wicks, Barbara W. and Bernard E. Bernstein curator at the Knoxville Museum of Art.
The panel discussion in Ball Hall is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception in Reece Museum, starting at 7 p.m. The discussion and the dual-gallery exhibition are designed to expand perspectives – on drawing and mark-making, as well as the bond it creates across a vast state such as Tennessee, despite the inherent geographic silos.
Along the Horizon is an exhibition for all levels of viewers – from arts novice to practitioner, Ross says. “If they want to know more about drawing as a medium to begin with, this is a really good place to see that, to see the spectrum of what drawing has to offer contemporarily,” he says. “I think it will challenge their ideas of what drawing is.
Reece Museum at 363 Stout Drive and Slocumb Galleries at 232 Sherrod Drive are open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Other hours are on case-by-case basis. Parking and handicapped access are available.
For information about the Along the Horizon: Contemporary Drawing in Tennessee exhibition, please call the Reece Museum at 423-439-4392 or visit www.etsu.edu/reece or visit Slocumb Galleries, on the web at etsu.edu/cas/art/galleries or call 423-483-3179.
For more information on Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call 423-439-8587.