On Friday, Feb. 1, ETSU’s downtown branch of the Slocumb Galleries, the Tipton Gallery, hosted a reception for a new exhibit titled “Tangibility of Faith: Art and Religion in Appalachia and Tennessee.”
The opening coincides with the other half of the exhibit currently on display in the Reece Museum on campus. Fourteen local artists created the various displays using a vast array of media, including anything from sculpture to digital art.
The works on display were created based around the personal beliefs of each artist, as well as ideas taken from the area they call home. The exhibit succeeds in showcasing the positive and negative aspects of numerous faiths and lifestyles.
“We tried to display artists that exhibited their faith or felt that their practice was tied to their faith,” explained Cheyenne Good, a Slocumb Gallery intern that has been a key figure in organizing and curating the exhibits. “We tried to show the diversity of this region because it is widely considered to be a homogenized, stagnant cultural region.
“The thing is, there is a lot of diversity here that a lot of people don’t know, so we tried to pull as many different sources as we could while trying to stay in Appalachia.”
One of the most interesting things to observe when examining the displays is how the more serious photography pieces blend with the surreal, abstract paintings. Each piece brings forward a deep sense of intimacy and emotion in viewers.
“A lot of the works we chose we tried to show how the faiths informed the making of the work or how it informed the community around it,” said Good. “Sometimes the environment changes because of the different faiths around here, and a lot of photographers draw on that while a lot of painters draw more on their personal ideas.
“Personally, I love Page Turner’s sculpture pieces because they show the bond of sisterhood in the Mormon faith. You see a lot of publicity about it, but you don’t see a lot of love that is fostered in those kinds of relationships. The importance of her sculptures comes from showing the woman bonding that happens in that faith.”
There is still time to see one or both portions of the “Tangibility of Faith: Art and Religion in Appalachia and Tennessee” exhibit. The exhibit will be available in Reece Museum until Feb. 15 and in Tipton Gallery until Feb. 22.