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ETSU alum's photography exhibit documents Elvis fans' pilgrimage to Graceland

December 10th, 2011 1:46 pm by staff report

ETSU alum's photography exhibit documents Elvis fans' pilgrimage to Graceland

“Gone But Not Forgotten,” a collection of photographs by East Tennessee State University alumna Alice Anthony, is on display in the university’s Advisement Resource and Career Center through Dec. 22.

The exhibit features photographs Anthony has taken of fans visiting Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion in Memphis.

“When I was a child, my family moved to the Graceland subdivision, which adjoins the grounds of Graceland,” Anthony said.  “We would often see Elvis at the front gates signing autographs and talking with young fans. I was always curious about the people who would come to Graceland hoping to catch a glimpse of Elvis, the ‘King of Rock and Roll.’”

Anthony says that “the Elvis phenomenon” has seemingly grown larger since his unexpected death in 1977. Graceland was opened to the public in 1982 and has become one of the most visited homes in America, attracting over 600,000 visitors annually.

“Each year on the anniversary of (Presley’s) death, thousands of fans come from every part of the world, making a pilgrimage to Graceland in August during Elvis Week,” Anthony said.  “They see this as a celebration of his life, more than a time for grief. They honor Elvis by bringing gifts and flowers, and leave many messages to him on the pink fieldstone wall that surrounds the front of the estate.

“For the past 14 years, I have concentrated on photographing and getting to know some of these loyal fans who come to pay homage to Elvis.”

Anthony, who earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Memphis and her master of fine arts degree at ETSU, has been an associate professor of photography in the departments of Art and Communications at Milligan College since 1991.

Her works have been included in exhibitions in over 20 states, and she was a featured artist at the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in Nashville in 2003. In addition, her photographs have been published in Photo Review, Southern Exposure and Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, published by the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services at ETSU.

In addition to its current showing in the ARC Center, Anthony’s “Gone But Not Forgotten” exhibition has been displayed locally at the Johnson City Area Arts Council and ETSU’s Reece Museum, and also at galleries in the Memphis area and the Tunica (Miss.) Museum.

The ARC Center is located on the second level of the D.P. Culp University Center and is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information, call Dr. Caroline Jackson, director of the University Advisement Center, at (423) 439-4098.

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