Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seriously, Knoxville

The entry below is written by my friend Carri who just recently moved back to Knoxville with her husband Brian after being away from Knoxville for five years. I've heard this departing and returning called Knoxville's Boomerang Effect, and thought it would be interesting to have her write about why they decided to come back after all those years away.

I'm grateful for their return and think that their experiences away have equipped them with great things to offer this city.

So without much further ado, may I introduce to you Carri...

My husband, Brian, and I are artists who are thankful to be back in “The Scruffy City” after 5 years of absence. We spent four years in San Antonio and one in Brooklyn. When we were in New York, and Tennessee was calling our names (aka we couldn’t afford to stay in The Big Apple), we had to choose which city to base our lives, art careers and goals in. While the other large Tennessee cities have something to offer, Knoxville became the obvious choice for a number of reasons.

The city seems open to experimentation and new ideas in the arts, as long as you’re grounded. And hopefully we are - We don’t feel like we’re stuck here- we feel privileged to be a part of the community. We don’t make pottery, or paint mountain landscapes, but we know the history and importance of those crafts in the region. Hopefully, we can be advocates for the contemporary visual arts while also celebrating the art forms that are already beloved by Knoxvillians.

Knoxville’s medium size and lack of pretention/ big money could really lead to it being a major player in the southeastern art scene. When art is not dictated by money, and the experimental artists are making work just because they can do no other, then the outcome can be something to take note of. But to guard against an insular bubble of an art community, the city must connect to regional, national and international art scenes. This is where the University becomes a key factor. The art students at UT are constantly exposed to the current developments as well as the history of art. In addition, they are taught by visiting artists and lecturers from all over the world. These students then make art and show it to the Knoxville community. So whether they know it or not, Knoxvillians are getting a rare taste of what’s really happening in the bigger art scene today.

While all these factors (plus other ones: the First Friday art walk, an Art Museum, developing Artist in Residence programs, etc.) are impressive, there’s still room for much growth. My husband and I hope to be a part of the further development of Knoxville’s art scene by curating shows that involve artists from other regions, taking our work to other places, supporting local artists/ galleries and continuing to make our own work. While we don’t know how all this will happen, we’re looking forward to the challenge.


cmmoxley said...

I agree with the thought about how UT's art department enriches our city beyond just what it offers students. I feel the same way about the Knoxville Symphony. While UT is doing its job by teaching and the KSO is doing its job by performing in concerts, they both offer so much more. The art (of instructors, guests and students) gets showcased far beyond the classroom. And the symphony musicians do so much more than just perform concerts. The arts truly make all of Knoxville better. We are very fortunate.

The Modern Gal said...

I've always been impressed with the way Knoxville supports things like First Friday. It's more proof of Knoxville's progressive side, which I give lots of credit to UT for facilitating.

I'm glad you're here, Carri and Brian!

Boriqua said...

Funny, my husband and I only managed to stay away 5 years, too. Our families are here and it's just a much nicer city in which to live than where we were. And as an artist, he's enjoyed immersing himself in the city's art community. Welcome back, Carri and Brian, and best of luck! :)