My first introduction to the Knoxville Museum of Art was in February 2020, before the world shut down. My husband had just finished the Intro to Knoxville class. We viewed a video that showed the process of creating and installing Richard Jolley’s Cycle of Life permanent exhibit and a presentation by the Knoxville Asian Festival dancers. This was all just before our move to Knoxville, and it left me buzzing with excitement over our new home to be.
Fast-forward to May of 2020 and our move. KMA was a lovely way to beat the heat, learn, and spark thoughtfulness and creativity. Once the world opened up again, we visited family days at the museum and took our girls to be part of the arts and crafts and see the exhibits. The Thorne Miniature Room still fascinates us, and we find new pieces every time we see it.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t “get” all art. Some art evokes nothing but confusion in me, and other pieces create a sense of awe and wonder. I can’t explain why, but I feel like this is a pretty common reaction to art. And while I sometimes need help understanding the artist’s message, I always appreciate the effort and intention in the pieces. My recent trip to Europe took us to Arles, France, where Van Gogh spent a year painting some of his most well-known works. We visited the Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles, which now permanently houses 5 of van Gogh’s art created there that cannot be seen anywhere else. I’ll share more about the trip in an upcoming article, but suffice it to say when it comes to art museums, whether in Knoxville or in France, some art speaks life to me, and some sends me running. (I’ll explain that later.)
As with any museum, KMA has permanent and rotating exhibits, hosts events and classes for the community, and improves upon its permanent exhibits over time. The exhibits are free to the public, allowing all to take advantage of the art and culture they bring us.
On June 16, the KMA debuted a new exhibit that will be on display until August 27. The works of Courtney Egan: Eco Tone with Nartori Green is a projection-based sculptural installation that projects onto the room’s floors, walls, and sculptures. There is movement, flow, and peacefulness to the exhibit that I found quite enjoyable to watch. The longer you sit in the room with the projections, the more you feel and can explore the movements. My photos will never do it justice. I hope you will make a plan to go see this in person for yourself.
“Eco Tone is a show of Egan’s artwork from 2020 to present, including new pieces made in collaboration with another New Orleans artist, Natori Green. Courtney Egan’s projection-based sculptural installations deliver an experience that is both pleasing and disconcerting. The ethereal projections – converging on walls, floors, and sculptural elements – are inspired by the growing frequency of human exposure to nature via computers or television. Egan creates stunning yet “subtly impossible, hybrid tableaus,” which envelop the viewer in a conversation between memory of the natural world and a new experience with a plant or flower. She explains the fundamental irony of the experience, stating, “We get closer and farther away from the natural world simultaneously when we experience it through a technological lens.” www.courtneyegan.net.”
On April 23, the museum temporarily closed one of its permanent exhibits, Higher Ground, with plans for exciting changes. “Higher Ground is the first permanent exhibition devoted to East Tennessee’s artistic achievements. It includes objects from the KMA collection supplemented by important works borrowed from public and private collections.” You can view a 3D tour on their website of the exhibit while you anxiously await the reopening of the exhibition and its changes slated for November of this year.
In the meantime, check out some of the events held at the museum, including the upcoming Cocktails & Conversation with Courtney Egan & Natori Green on August 03, 2023, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, with free admission. While admission is free to the general public, you can purchase a membership with varying benefits, such as discounts to the gift shop, events, and other recognition. This helps to support the museum and its work in the community, encouraging and supporting artists.