I attended the first Pecha Kucha several years ago at the Jackson Avenue Workshops. I left feeling my intelligence was a bit below average and my creativity didn’t register on the graph. It would never have occurred to me that I might be a presenter at one of the events. But last night I was given the opportunity and I really appreciated it.
Gene Burr and Suzanne Wedekind presented regarding a grant they administered to teach young students, from elementary to high school, how to observe the built environment. They utilized local structures and focused on the how and why of the building as well as who utilized it for understanding its form and function.
Artist Brian Jobe showed slides of the construction of his structure at the Knoxville Botanical Gardens. It’s a structure designed to engage visitors to the gardens and will be a permanent fixture there. He feels strongly that built art should engage its surroundings as well as its community.
Brigid Oesterling talked about wondering if she should continue making art given there is already so much “stuff” in the world. Eventually, about to toss an inner tube from a motorcycle, she stopped and recognized it would be in a dump forever. Thus began her efforts to make useful objects from trash. Eventually she made a line of clothing from inner tubes and has found success in the fashion world, leading her to the question of whether she is making art or making clothing.
Bob Sutton strummed a guitar and told a story of a boy who had his life saved in Coalfield, Tennessee in 1965. The boy, John Foust, would grow up to be a important man in the area. Bob’s presentation was accompanied by beautiful photographs by James Newby.
Brenna Elrod said she comes from a long line of hoarders and she spoke her childhood concerns or “quiet worries,” about the accumulation of trash in the world.. In fact she is actively seeking ways to re-use materials that might otherwise have been discarded and that is the premise of her blog. As a result of that focus she has started making a clothing line from table cloths and other used fabrics.
Matthew Debardelaben is writing a children’s book and showed photographs of his children, who play prominently into the story as well as beautiful illustrations by Dani Collins from the work in progress. The writing was as beautiful as the illustrations and follows a grandfather and a boy learning life lessons as they talk about the value of the natural environment and of hard work.
Matt Culver, an architect whose love of furniture making and wood work has led him to teach those skills at UT, supervises the Fab Lab at UT where students take their concepts and produce full scale models with their own hands. His passion for working with his hands and seeing others come to believe they can do the same radiated throughout his presentation.
Noble Robinette is an award-winning short-film maker. He’s lived in LA recently, but returned to Knoxville where he has participated in several 48 film festivals and won awards from each. His presentation focused on his short film MALK which is about a male breast-feeding support group (Pro tip: If it says “Male” and “breast-feeding,” it’s probably humor).
And what did I talk about? I talked about how I always wanted to be a writer, loved cities and mashed the two loves up for this blog. I thanked several people – Metro Pulse, Josh Flory, Dale Mackey and Blank Newspaper for the support they’ve given me. I discussed all the arenas of information I’ve been exposed to in this blog from historic preservation to urban design and photography. I’ve learned quite a bit and I continue to learn.
Mostly I talked about how much I appreciate having you guys – my readers, many of whom were present. From 1700 page views the first month I published, the site has grown to over 50,000 page views in September of this year. The Facebook Page registered its 3000th “like” just yesterday. It’s humbling and I appreciate the opportunity to write for you. I love our city and I’m glad we are on this journey together.