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Photography exhibition set for May 7-8 at The Emporium Center

During May, The Arts & Culture Alliance will host “Different Together” a photography exhibition of works by members of Professional Photographers of East Tennessee (PPETN) at The Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville. PPETN’s inaugural exhibition at the Emporium will showcase a wide range of photographic subjects and styles, reflecting works made by PPETN members for their clients and customers as well as personal projects expressing individual photographic creativity. Most of the works will be for sale and may be purchased through the close of the exhibition by visiting in person or the online shop at

An opening night reception with the photographers will take place on First Friday, May 7, from 5:00-8:00 PM. All visitors to the Emporium are required to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing guidelines.

art collage knoxville emporium

The Professional Photographers of East Tennessee: Different Together in the lower gallery

As East Tennessee’s official professional photography trade organization, The Professional Photographers of East Tennessee (PPETN) is more than a local camera club, photography group, or discussion forum – it is an established not-for-profit organization promoting professionalism, advancement, and cooperation in photography throughout the region. PPETN membership consists of the area’s top photographers dedicated to providing the highest quality imagery, customer service, and products.

In their inaugural exhibition at the Emporium, PPETN members will showcase a wide range of photographic subjects and styles, reflecting works made by professional photographers for their clients and customers as well as personal projects expressing individual photographic creativity. The exhibition includes competition images prepared by members for various local, state, and national professional photography competitions. Many of the images have received awards in these competitions, hosted by PPETN itself, the Tennessee Professional Photographers Association, and the Professional Photographers of America.

PPETN organizes events every month to provide opportunities for education, support, and community for photographers in East Tennessee. Events are designed to benefit all levels of photographers.

woodturning by brian horais - emporium

A Celebration of Watercolor by the Knoxville Watercolor Society in the upper gallery

In 1963, the Knoxville Watercolor Society (KWS) began when the head of the University of Tennessee’s art department, Kermit (Buck) Ewing, invited watercolor artists exhibiting at the university’s McClung Museum to form the nucleus for the organization. The purpose of the organization is to educate the members as well as the community to the understanding of watercolor as a significant art form. Active membership is juried by the members and consists of Knoxville area artists who are currently active in the serious pursuit of aqueous painting and meet regularly to share knowledge and new techniques.

KWS Members exhibit with the Tennessee Watercolor Society, other state watercolor organizations, the Southern Watercolor Society, Watercolor USA and the American Watercolor Society and consistently win regional, state and national awards. Local watercolor artists interested in joining KWS have the opportunity to apply for active membership each October and submit paintings to be juried by the membership at the November meeting.

color of light - emporium
The Color of Light by Larry Cole

Larry Cole: The Color of Light in the Atrium

The Color of Light presents a romantic look at nature from an abstract expressionist viewpoint. Works focus on the intensity of light falling on landscapes or clouds and reflecting and illuminating often unexpected colors. The themes of sunsets, exotic locations and intriguing fictional ones are painted in vibrant colors on textured substrates enticing viewers to escape from their traditional observation of nature and see it through romanticized and whimsical eyes.

“My paintings are an invitation for the viewer to experience an emotion rather than simply scrutinize an image,” says Larry Cole. “My intentionally ambiguous and abstract subjects are chosen with the hope that the observer can easily relate them to their own personal experiences.”

A native of Tennessee, Larry Cole studied art and business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In his early studio work, he drew inspiration from the painting styles of his nationally-known professors, C. Kermit Ewing and Carl Sublett. The influence of their painting techniques can be detected in Cole’s accentuation of the abstract structures within his real-world subjects. Larry subsequently chose a career in banking but maintained a life-long interest in painting. For several years, he owned a studio and gallery in the Bearden Arts District. His works have been showcased in solo and group exhibitions throughout Tennessee and the Southeast. Cole maintains a number of devoted private and corporate collectors.

fiber arts Sonja Oswalt - emporium

Skin Deep – Portraits in Fiber by Sonja Oswalt

From the day we are born, human beings are drawn to faces. We develop our identities in the context of faces we see around us as well as the reflection of our own faces in the mirror. In this exhibition, I seek to capture a piece of the infinite beauty of the human face across gender, age, race, and ethnicity using the art of needle felting and the medium of merino wool. Subjects include friends who have influenced my life or artistic journey and others who represent things important to my growth and understanding as a woman living in America. I have included historic figures Sojourner Truth and Zitkala-Sa, translating black and white photography from the Library of Congress into color in the wool medium as I imagine they may have appeared. My great hope as a human and an artist is that by recognizing the beauty and wonder in the faces of our fellow humans, we can overcome our differences and live more fully into community with those around us.

Sonja Oswalt has worked with wool since 2012. Her works includes 3-dimensional animal replicas and fantasy figures, 2-dimensional landscapes and portraits, clothing, purses, and hats. She is largely self-taught, though she has participated in workshops with renowned felt-makers worldwide. Oswalt works on commission and via her Etsy online store. Her store, the Baad Hatter Felt Hats and Fiber Arts, reflects the whimsical style of much of her work.

knoxville in bloom by didana kilburn - emporium

Knoxville in Bloom by Diana Kilburn

In this new exhibition, Diana Kilburn will display watercolors inspired by scenes and outdoor floral arrangements in downtown Knoxville.

The flowers, meadows, and forests inspired many of my paintings when I lived in southeastern Kentucky for 20 years. Now, after living in downtown Knoxville for nine years, I appreciate the beautiful colorful plantings by the City and individuals who work and live within the city. I enjoy creating paintings that emphasize details found in these plantings and in scenes of our downtown. Painting with watercolors gives me joy. Watching colors mix on paper and textures created almost spontaneously feels like magic and as if the paintings are created by instinct.

Diana Kilburn received a Bachelors in Education from Miami University of Ohio and a Masters of Art from the University of Memphis. Her work has exhibited in galleries in Tennessee and Kentucky, and she has also participated in group and solo shows in Missouri and Ohio. She is a member of the Knoxville Watercolor Society. During the many years when she lived on Wood Creek Lake in Kentucky, she hosted a weekend artist retreat for guests from many states, teaching watercolors, serving gourmet meals, and leading hikes to a nearby waterfall. She also started teaching a watercolor painting class to a group of nine women, some of whom had not painted before. Except for the time of the pandemic, they have continued to meet together once a month for 21 years, calling themselves “The Escape Artists” because of their shared love of traveling to paint, exhibit and enjoy time together.

Published April 17, 2021

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