Tennessee Tech Art, Craft & Design Professors inspire students with their own art

Perry Johnson, Associate Professor in Art, Craft & Design, in the classroom with a student.

COOKEVILLE – Kimberly Winkle, Director of the School of Art, Craft & Design, said the innovative programs at Tennessee Tech University allow art faculty and students partake in creative processes to express themselves and relate to each other in unique ways. 

“We pride ourselves in taking traditional craft materials and processes but adding a more relevant, contemporary twist,” Winkle explains. “We think it’s really important for students to make something very well with intention and skill, but then to also learn how to speak their own unique voice through that material and process.”

The faculty is honored to share with the student body and the general public the creations in their studios.

Winkle said, “All of our faculty are incredibly gifted educators, but I think what a lot of people don’t understand is that they are incredibly gifted, talented and skillful makers in all different mediums of art. So, it’s really an honor and privilege to be able to share and exhibit our work together.”

According to Winkle, the faculty is fortunate in that they are well-skilled in both art making, as well as art educating.

“A special place for art majors is the Appalachian Center for Craft, which is completely dedicated to craft and craft education,” Winkle explained.

Multiple trades and skills are offered at the center including studios in glassblowing, blacksmithing, jewelry, ceramics, fibers and woodworking. There are four different exhibition spaces, a retail gallery, housing for students, as well as a resident artist program at the location. 

There is also gallery space on Tech’s main campus, including the Joan Derryberry Art Gallery in the Roaden University Center.

“We’re really lucky that we have this lasting legacy of Joan Derryberry and the impact of the arts here in this region, specifically in Cookeville and at Tennessee Tech University,” Winkle shared. “Being able to carry on her name by providing high quality arts education for all is important – it is easily accessible for all students and members of the university population.

“To be able to go into the Roaden University Center and get your parking permit, get your cafe meal or your Chick-Fil-A, and then also have this wonderful, enriching experience by seeing whatever work is currently on display in the Joan Derryberry Art Gallery is very special.” 

Winkle encourages the general public to come into both the Derryberry Art Gallery as well as the Appalachian Center for Craft.

During the fall semester, faculty from the School of Art, Craft & Design had their work on display in a special exhibition on campus, allowing students to see for themselves the work their professors do.

“There is a sense of awe. They know their professors as being wonderfully nurturing yet challenging individuals in the classroom. But they really don’t understand what we make individually as artists,” Winkle said of student reaction to seeing their professors’ works. 

“They were so excited for us, to be able to see the work that we’ve created and just to have a different conversation – to view their professors through a new set of eyes. It not only educates them, it inspires them. That is what all art should do.”

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