City of Knoxville Tennessee Arts Commission


Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee

Higher Ground is the first ongoing exhibition devoted to the history of art in East Tennessee. It features a selection of more than 60 objects from the Knoxville Museum of Art’s holdings supplemented by those borrowed from public and private collections from all over the country. Many of the featured artists spent their entire lives and careers in the area, while some moved away to follow their creative ambitions. Others were drawn to the region by its natural beauty, as the wealth of landscape imagery in this exhibition attests.

Together, these artists’ works form the basis of a visual arts legacy in East Tennessee that is compelling and, until the opening of Higher Ground in June of 2008, largely unknown. The exhibition allows viewers to follow the history of artistic activity in the region over roughly 150 years of development and learn about some of the many exceptionally gifted individuals who have helped shape the area’s visual arts tradition.

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Section One: Grand Ambitions

The Higher Ground story begins in the second half of the 19th century, which is the first period in which East Tennessee boasted a community of active, professional artists. This development stemmed from a period of prosperity fueled by booming local industries such as marble quarrying, mineral mining, and lumbering. Railroads soon linked East Tennessee to other urban centers and sparked further growth. Knoxville became the hub of economic and artistic activity within the region.

Section Two: Lure of the Smokies

The Higher Ground story begins in the second half of the 19th century, which is the first period in which East Tennessee boasted a community of active, professional artists. This development stemmed from a period of prosperity fueled by booming local industries such as marble quarrying, mineral mining, and lumbering. Railroads soon linked East Tennessee to other urban centers and sparked further growth. Knoxville became the hub of economic and artistic activity within the region.

Section Three: Changing Fortunes, Changing Scenes

The Higher Ground story begins in the second half of the 19th century, which is the first period in which East Tennessee boasted a community of active, professional artists. This development stemmed from a period of prosperity fueled by booming local industries such as marble quarrying, mineral mining, and lumbering. Railroads soon linked East Tennessee to other urban centers and sparked further growth. Knoxville became the hub of economic and artistic activity within the region.

Section Four: Post-War Revival

The Higher Ground story begins in the second half of the 19th century, which is the first period in which East Tennessee boasted a community of active, professional artists. This development stemmed from a period of prosperity fueled by booming local industries such as marble quarrying, mineral mining, and lumbering. Railroads soon linked East Tennessee to other urban centers and sparked further growth. Knoxville became the hub of economic and artistic activity within the region.

Section Five: Diverse Paths

The Higher Ground story begins in the second half of the 19th century, which is the first period in which East Tennessee boasted a community of active, professional artists. This development stemmed from a period of prosperity fueled by booming local industries such as marble quarrying, mineral mining, and lumbering. Railroads soon linked East Tennessee to other urban centers and sparked further growth. Knoxville became the hub of economic and artistic activity within the region.




Support for Higher Ground provided by

City of Knoxville
Guild of the Knoxville Museum of Art
Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation

Friends of Higher Ground

Aslan Foundation
Marty and Jim Begalla
Anonymous
Anonymous
Melinda Meador
Sandi and Tom Burdick
Linda and Pete Clausen
Dr. Alan Solomon and Ms. Andrea Cartwright
Whitney Haslam Brown
Mary Helen Byers
Alexandra Rosen and Donald Cooney


Additional support for Higher Ground provided by




Media support for this exhibition is provided by: