Spotlight: Ewing Gallery

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut was the first institution of higher education to begin an art collection. In 1750, it acquired its first work of art, a 1670 portrait of the Reverend John Davenport, and in 1831, the patriot-artist John Trumbull gave more than one hundred of his portraits and historical paintings to Yale and designed a building to house them. Thus, the first university art museum in the western hemisphere was established. Since then, other public and private universities have embraced the development of museums and art collections which encourage appreciation, and understanding of art and its role in society through direct engagement with original works. In its brief history, the Ewing Gallery of Art & Architecture at The University of Tennessee has strived to acquire works of art and architecture for the educational benefits of our students and faculty and for the enrichment of the Knoxville and East Tennessee communities.

Nina Bovasso, "South Knoxville: Ladybug Swarm"

Nina Bovasso, “South Knoxville: Ladybug Swarm”

This summer the Ewing Gallery will be organizing a permanent collection exhibition focusing on our abstract art.  The beginnings of abstraction can be seen as early as the 1870s with James McNeill Whistler’s Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket.  Derailed by John Ruskin, an esteemed art critic of the time, Whistler was accused of “blatant impudence for asking 200 guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face.” Other movements, Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, and Russian Constructivism helped to change the idea that a painting had to portray a physical subject. Now, works of art could be representative of light, responses to sound and smell, traces of a distinct gesture, and even descriptions of psychological states.

This exhibition includes works by such diverse artists as Will Henry Stevens, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Aldrich, Robert Motherwell, Nina Bovasso, Rob Nadeau, Carl Holty, Carrie Moyer, Joel Carreiro, Creighton Michael, Paul Krainak,  Al Loving, and Gordon Dorn. A number of the pieces are by current and former University of Tennessee Faculty: Jered Sprecher, Holly Stevens, Richard Clarke, Sally Brogden, Whitney Leland, Carl Sublett, and C. Kermit “Buck” Ewing.

Will Henry Stevens, "Untitled"

Will Henry Stevens, “Untitled”

Only  few of the works in the Ewing Permanent Collection that fit the theme of abstraction will be displayed. The others left in storage may be presented in future exhibitions at the UT Downtown Gallery or here on campus. The history of the Ewing Gallery Collection dates to the mid 1950s when several Japanese woodblock prints were acquired by C. Kermit Ewing, the first chair of the UT Art Department. Since then, the collection has grown through the generosity of our university alumni, faculty, and friends. Gifts of works, bequests, and cash contributions to the Friends of the Ewing Gallery that permit the purchase of selected works all contribute to the growth of this collection. Please visit the Ewing Gallery website closer to June for exact dates and times for this exhibition. The Ewing Gallery will be open on an abbreviated summer schedule. We look forward to seeing you at our Permanent Collection exhibition.

Currently in the gallery are the School of Art MFA Thesis exhibitions. The BFA Honors Exhibition will take place in May with an opening reception on the afternoon of Friday, May 3rd. Keep in touch with all our goings on by liking us on Facebook, checking our website, and following us on Twitter.

HOURS (through exams)

M: 10-8

T: 10-5

W: 10-5

R: 10-8

F: 10-5


Sun: 1-4

SUMMER HOURS will be decided later.


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The official blog and news archive for the University of Tennessee School of Art.

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