KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new exhibit from Dogwood Arts is celebrating some of the most prominent people in Appalachia.
A local artist created sculptures of figures who led sports teams to victory and refined young minds, like Pat Summitt. While others are more anonymous, such as one portrait of an unnamed teacher from Appalachia. The artist, Brian Melton, is also displaying personal works of art — two portraits of his grandfather.
According to officials from Dogwood Arts, the exhibition is meant to celebrate Appalachian identity. Melton uses "flawed" and imperfect materials in his sculptures and transforms them into symbols of the unedited and real characteristics of people from the region.
They said the art pays tribute to the tireless and generous people of Appalachia, who are often misrepresented as being unrefined. They say by using imperfect materials, he demonstrates a commitment to traditions of "making do with what you have" and a connection to a past before increased mechanization and digitization.
One of the sculptures also features Bill Landry, one of the leading voices and visionary behind The Heartland Series. He hosted the show, bringing viewers on an adventure through the region and highlighting the natural history, traditions, stories and people in it.
The show became immensely popular since it began in 1984. For years, he brought stories straight from the heart of the Appalachian Mountains — The Heartland Series. It aired on WBIR.
"He took a group of people that had been categorized as 'the hillbillies,' 'the Beverly hillbillies,' and things like that where everyone thinks everyone is a Hatfield or a McCoy; he brought it down home to show these people that just love each other, care about each other and give back," said Melton. "And that's what I like."
The exhibition will be on display at the Dogwood Arts Gallery at 123 West Jackson Avenue. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.