Knoxville was also the home to poet Jane Merchant. She was the author of more than 2,000 poems published mostly in magazines throughout the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain. Carl Sandberg praised her first book of poetry, published in 1956, while Jesse Stuart, poet laureate of Kentucky in the 1950s, called her 'the finest poet of religious poetry in America.' Read more about Jane Merchant.
Some of the best photographic work came from Memphian Ernest Withers, considered one of the most important Civil Rights photographers, and Danny Lyon, a staff photographer for SNCC who also turned out an impressive collection.
Tennessee's university system, which rarely supported the arts before World War II, produced a small circle of artists. Elite women's organizations, like the Nineteenth Century Club in Memphis and the Centennial Club and Nashville Art Association in Nashville, helped nurture the visual arts at the university level.
- An art work by Red Grooms donated to the museum by Walter Knestrick who grew up with Grooms in Nashville. The work, entitled "Empire State Building," is a three dimensional silk screen. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 2007.21.3
- Photograph of artist Red Grooms by Dennis Wile from 1986. This was part of a series of photographs commissioned by the Tennessee State Museum in conjunction with an exhibit. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 2007.40.17
- Oil on canvas portrait of writer Alex Haley by John Kelley done in 1988. This painting hung in Haley's home in Norris, TN, and was purchased by the Tennessee State Museum in a sale after Haley's death. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 92.84.98
- Portrait of Gloria Ridley by Aaron Douglas, done in 1967. Ridley was the wife of Greg Ridley, who was a noted artist in his own right. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 1998.141
- Painting by Eugene Biel-Bienne entitled "Le Grand Clown De Paris," which the artist also called a self portrait. Biel-Bienne was born in Austria, and became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. He joined the Arts Department at Vanderbilt University in 1959, and stayed there until 1965. He died in Nashville in 1969. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 82.87
- A painting by Walter Stevens entitled "Fargo." Stevens moved to Tennessee in 1956, and was a member of the Art Department of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville from 1957 until he died in 1980. He primarily taught painting and printmaking. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 90.36.5
- A photograph by Jack Stoddart of a barn in a heavy snow fall part of a series of photographs taken by Stoddart on the Cumberland Plateau during the early 1970s. Tennessee State Museum Collection, 2008.182.23
- A photograph of Aaron Douglas painting at Fisk University. Undated. Courtesy of Fisk University
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