Cookeville – The Women’s Center at Tennessee Tech University recently held a grand opening of a new gallery space where set to feature select works of arts from the College of Fine Arts Juried Art Exhibition.
“We chose two winners; one to exhibit in the fall semester, one in the spring,” Helen Hunt, Women’s Center director, said. “We select the winners based on which art resonate the most with our mission. A small committee made up of the WMC director, and faculty from the provost’s office and the School of Art, Craft & Design select the winner.”
Hunt said she came up with the idea for the exhibition award as they were renovating the space last summer and she realized they could convert part of the space to a small gallery. Then, faculty from the School of Art, Craft & Design helped refine the idea and it was ultimately approved by the faculty.
Anna Grayson, a metals artist from Gallatin, is the first winner of the Women’s Center Exhibition Awards with their metal artwork “See no, Hear no, Speak no” that will be one of the pieces featured in the WMC’s gallery space during the fall semester. Their piece will be on display all semester according to Hunt.
Grayson’s winning piece used layered materials to create a sensation of depth, as the shadowed figures struggle to emerge distinctly from the chaotic background, crowded with injunctions to see no, hear no, speak no. They lean toward the central figure, becoming a trio that looks back at the viewer through the mist encompassing their senses.
“The piece that won was entered into the student exhibition at the craft center, and I really wasn’t expecting to win anything,” Grayson said. “There were so many amazing pieces entered into the show from my fellow classmates, that I felt my small piece was going to be overshadowed.”
Grayson said it was a shock when her name was called along with one other student to receive the award. The winners received a $250 cash prize, however, Hunt said that future prizes would depend upon donor support.
A part of the Women’s Center’s mission is to educate people about gender equity and women’s issues and to advocate for equality and inclusion in the campus and the community by connecting people to resources and programs.
“The Women’s Center is doing so much for Tech and I’m proud to be a part of that in some way,” Grayson said. “My art being a part of this amazing organization inside of Tech makes me proud to be here and to have my voice heard.”
Grayson transferred to Tech their sophomore year after the school they were attending, Memphis College of Art, closed down due to financial struggles. They said it was their dream school, but then found the fit in Tech’s Appalachian Center for Craft.
“My professor at MCA told me about Tech and the ACC and it was perfect for me. The Craft Center is truly a hidden gem that I am so grateful to find,” Grayson said. “Not only does the Craft center offer a BFA in metals, which is what I was looking for, it also has so many other wonderful mediums to choose from.”
They said they have taken various intro level classes at the ACC. Although technically they are a metals student, they don’t like to limit the work they make to one medium and have spent their time studying at the ACC producing work in a number of mediums.
“Learning all these different techniques from amazing professors really broadens the spectrum of work I’m able to make.” Grayson said.
After Grayson graduates in December, they plan move to Nashville with their partner. They are originally from that area and think it’s a great place to settle and continue to expand their art. They are going to continue to work towards creating a name for themselves and sell their work at galleries and local craft fairs.
“I want to thank all the amazing people who helped me get to this point and taught me to value my work,” Grayson said. “I’d also like to add that you can find my work at annagraysonart.com or on Instagram and Facebook at @anna.grayson.art.”
Hunt encourages people to come see the current exhibition at the WMC Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and to learn more about the other programs the WMC offers.
“We are so excited to be able to display this art, and we encourage people to support our artists by purchasing their work or contributing to the cash awards for the exhibition,” Hunt said.