Knoxville's Museum of Art - Be inspired
1482 spools of thread hang on the wall of the Knoxville Museum of Art. At first glance, they might appear to just be a colorful assortment put together by someone who loves to sew, but upon closer examination, and through the guise of a small glass sphere, a masterpiece is revealed. Devorah Sperber, an artist who lives and works in New York created this work called “After the Mona Lisa 8.” It’s one of the many surprises you’ll find at KMA.
Across the room from this Mona Lisa is what appears to be a man on the wall with his back turned toward you. As you get closer to this imposing figure, you start to see striking detail from the folds in his skin, to the short hairs coming out of his bald head. My kids and I thought it was a bit creepy, but at the same time, a brilliant piece of work. Both of these contemporary artistic creations are part of an ongoing collection at the museum called “Currents.”
Much of the art on display at KMA is modern, but its first permanent exhibition has pieces dating back a hundred years. It’s called “Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee.” The artists whose work appears in this collection drew their inspiration from the natural beauty of the region. One of the most striking works in this part of the museum is a painted canvas called “The History of Tennessee” which spans 30-feet in length. New York artist Marion Greenwood came to Knoxville in the 1950’s to paint it. It’s diverse cultural representations eventually created controversy and the artwork disappeared from public view until it was restored and moved to KMA a few years ago. (Scroll down to see it in the gallery below.)
The smallest pieces at KMA are on the lower level in an exhibit called “The Thorne Rooms.” Step inside and you are sure to be surprised. Nine stately rooms in “miniature” size make up this special collection. The attention to detail in each room is astounding, one probable reason the collection was on display at several World’s Fairs and the Dulin Gallery of Art, the predecessor to the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Whether you’re a big fan of art museums or not, visiting KMA should be on your list. There are certainly works that will have you scratching your head and some that just don’t hold any interest, but together the art makes a statement that the people of East Tennessee appreciate creativity and work to promote it. The location of the museum also adds to its allure. A second floor deck provides stunning views of World’s Fair Park and Downtown Knoxville. There’s even a small creative space designed to bring out the creative streak in kids of all ages. (My kids especially liked the giant “lite brite” and they are both teenagers!)
The Knoxville Museum of Art is open everyday except Monday and certain holidays. There is plenty of parking nearby and best of all, admission everyday is FREE! So, if the weather outside is kind of dreary, then why not make a trip to World’s Fair Park and be inspired by what you find inside KMA.
To learn more about this museum visit www.knoxart.org .