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McKinney Center exhibit features two local artists

Submitted by Cameo Waters • Mar 18, 2018 at 4:30 PM

The first exhibition of the year for Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center will feature Calvin Bennett and Fredda Roberts.

The exhibit, which is free and open to the public from 8 a.m to 5 p.m., weekdays, runs through April 20.

“Calvin and Fredda both have natural elements in their work,” said Theresa Hammons, director of the McKinney Center. “Calvin’s environmental subjects in his photographs are beautiful and endearing. It is amazing how he captures the essence of the natural world through his camera lens and also in his framing. Calvin uses acid free, archival, photography paper to print his images and also hand builds all his frames. Calvin puts his whole being into a photograph. It is truly inspiring.”

Bennett, a Jonesborough native, is an American photographer known for his nature photography in the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway. Calvin worked as a professional crane technician and OSHA crane inspector for over 30 years. He later changed careers and focused on his lifelong passion of photography when he purchased his first camera from a pawn shop in the mid 70s.

Bennett has achieved various awards for fine art photography at art fairs and shows for several years. He is currently photographing the East coast lighthouses from Florida to Maine. He is very hands-on in his studio where printing on archival photo paper, canvas and matting are top of the line.

“Photography requires sacrifice,” Bennett says. “Rolling out of bed a 3 o’clock in the morning to be on some mountain top before sunrise, or getting in late at night after a sunset, it’s just a part of the job, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Fredda Roberts discovered the art of jewelry making in 2008 and states that, “it was as though a fog had lifted and I was able to clearly see a way of connecting and incorporating my passion for fiber arts and clay work with a lifelong interest in natural gems and antiques.”

As a young girl, Roberts would go rock hunting with her mother in the North Carolina mountains and learned to see the beauty hidden in the rough stones. That skill has carried through to today when she sits at her work bench looking at a spool of wire, a broken dish or a lump of metal clay.

“I am blessed with creative optimism; the faith that I will discover what is to come,” Roberts said. “I find myself drawn to objects with a past life whether it is a silver spoon, a river rock or a piece of scrap copper. The need to reform them into something unique and wearable, something new and reborn is almost unstoppable.”

Roberts has explored a variety of styles and techniques; loving that there is not an end to what she can learn. Her work continues to evolve and she creates wearable works of art, each with a history of its own. All of her pieces are created with joy and enthusiasm in her home studio in Jonesborough - although she is more likely to be found under a shade tree weaving and hammering while watching her children play on a pretty day.

The McKinney Center houses the Jonesborough Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts, which is “committed to inspiring the people of our area through both the appreciation of and the participation in the arts as a form of personal and collective expression.” The objective of the program is to “bring the community at large closer together and show as an example to other communities the creative influence that the arts can bring to their quality of life.”

The McKinney Center, a department within the Town of Jonesborough, is located in the historic Booker T. Washington School at 103 Franklin Avenue. To learn more, email Theresa Hammons at [email protected] or call (423) 753-0562.

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