As the world is becoming increasingly aware, the Knoxville Museum of Art will soon house the most ambitious and monumental figural glass sculpture anywhere, the work of internationally renowned artist and Knoxville resident Richard Jolley. This dazzling 185-foot-long, 14-foot-high sculpture, titled Cycle of Life: Within the Power of Dreams and the Wonder of Infinity is the generous gift of Ann and Steve Bailey. The eyes of the world will be on Knoxville as art lovers from around the world make the pilgrimage to the KMA to experience this unparalleled masterwork when it is unveiled in the spring of 2014. This is a defining moment and unrivaled opportunity for the KMA and for Knoxville. Installation will soon begin, and will continue through winter as we prepare for an exciting week of opening celebrations April 30-May 4, 2014.
The gift of the Jolley sculpture is but the latest in a decades-long legacy of remarkable and generous gifts that have created and sustained the KMA. The largest single gift in the museum’s history, by local philanthropist Jim Clayton, led to the construction of the current building, which opened in 1990. The KMA’s Clayton Building is a true American masterpiece. As the building nears its 25th birthday and the Jolley unveiling approaches, long-deferred maintenance and cosmetic work is being undertaken, and the museum’s landscaping and exterior areas are being upgraded and improved. Thanks to the success of the 25th Anniversary Campaign, this vital work is well underway, and visitors to the museum can already see dramatic improvements to the exterior. Beginning August 26, 2013, repairs and upgrades to the interior will necessitate closing the building to the public for several months with plans to reopen in late November 2013.
Cycle of Life stands as a spectacular affirmation of the museum’s mission to celebrate the richness and diversity of the visual arts in East Tennessee past and present. Higher Ground: A Century of the Visual Arts in East Tennessee, our flagship permanent exhibition, has inspired an outpouring of generosity that has allowed us to make several spectacular acquisitions by homegrown artists such as Knoxville Impressionist Catherine Wiley. To fulfill the parallel mission of presenting new art and new ideas, a new permanent installation, Currents: Recent Art from East Tennessee and Beyond, stresses the connection between what happens here and in art centers elsewhere in this country and abroad. A rich mix of temporary exhibitions and education programming complements and supports these core initiatives and serves a broad and diverse audience, particularly young people and underserved populations.
Now is our time to shine!