Friday, August 21, 2015

In Which I Explore Arts and Letters

Hunter Museum of American Art

I spent three days last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city has the distinctive Hunter Museum of American Art which sits overlooking the Tennessee River. The featured exhibit was "Monet and American Impressionism." It was quite well done and I enjoyed seeing the 70-some paintings and prints. I had my sketchbook with me so I was able to make a visual record of my visit there.

Sewanee: The University of the South
Sewanee, Tennessee

On Saturday, I drove about 60 miles west of the city to Sewanee: The University of the South. I have had it in mind to visit the college for sometime as it is supposed to be one of the most beautiful campuses in America. I was not disappointed.

I felt as if I were in Oxford or Cambridge. Soaring Gothic towers, thick stone walls, stained glass windows, and shaded sidewalks greeted me on this quiet afternoon. 

I gleaned the following historical information from various sources.

The private, liberal arts college was founded a few years before the start of the Civil War. The goal was to create a Southern university free of Northern influences. The six-ton cornerstone laid in 1860 was blown up by Union soldiers in 1863. This slowed things down for the college that was formed by the ten southern dioceses of the Episcopal Church. It wasn't until 1868 that the first students graduated. 

The school publishes the Sewanee Review, founded in 1892, and is thought to be the longest running literary magazine in the country. It also hosts the annual Sewanee Writers' Conference which is funded in part by an endowment from the estate of American playwright Tennessee Williams. 

Authors Jill McCorkle, Tim O'Brien, and Alice McDermott are on the faculty of the conference which focuses on fiction, playwriting, and poetry. I missed the conference hubbub by two weeks. It ended August 2.

This is the student dining hall. Isn't it fabulous!

Image result for all saints chapel sewanee
All Saints' Chapel

The main things I wanted to see were the stained glass windows in the All Saints' Chapel which I read somewhere included images of writers, artists, and musicians. And sure enough, I found huge windows honoring J.S. Bach, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, and Carolus Linnaeus alongside Shakespeare and Cervantes. There was even one depicting a fellow dressed in what looked to be a brown sports jacket. He turned out to be Gifford Pinchot the first Chief of the United States Forestry Service who served from 1905-1910.

Below are photos I took of the literary honorees.

The Venerable Bede
The Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Don Quixote
I love the addition of the windmill and knight.

Blaise Pascal

William Shakespeare
Can you find the image of the Globe Theatre's stage?

I thought these were wonderful, colorful representations of these writers and I was glad I made the trip to see them. 

On a more somber note, the same day I was visiting Sewanee, Vice President Biden and the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense were in Chattanooga attending a memorial service for the four Marines and one Navy sailor who were killed just the previous month. I didn't attend, but I did watch some of the speeches on YouTube later that evening. Quite moving.

Chattanooga Strong! 

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