SMITHVILLE, Tenn. - When Bill and Sandy Miller decided to gift their beloved bronze sculpture titled "Reverence," they could think of no better place than Tennessee Tech University's Appalachian Center for Craft.
“I hope the sculpture welcomes Craft Center visitors,” Bill said. “And I hope it inspires creativity for Tech’s art students.”
Bill and Sandy acquired Reverence on a trip to Santa Fe, N.M., in 2007. They were both drawn to the same piece at the Patricia Carlisle Fine Art Gallery: a life-sized bronze sculpture with arms outstretched, each holding a white bird. The sculpture was created by American artist David Pearson and is the second in a limited edition of 15. The Millers say when they looked at Reverence, they immediately felt a sense of peace and respect and knew they wanted it in their home.
“It took two years before we agreed on a bedspread,” Sandy joked. “So, when we agree on art, we usually buy it. We have three or four pieces that we both love, and Reverence is one of them.”
After enjoying Reverence in their home for many years, the Millers decided to give the sculpture to Tech so that students, faculty and visitors can enjoy it as well. Reverence was installed at the Craft Center on Oct. 22 and formally dedicated on Nov. 19.
The Millers are not Tech alumni and, prior to retiring to Cookeville in 2011, had no ties to the university. But they have adopted Tech as their own, taking classes on campus and at the Craft Center and immersing themselves in the Golden Eagle and Cookeville communities.
“I’ve taken classes at a lot of colleges and universities, but nowhere has impressed me as much as Tech,” Sandy said.
Bill added, “Everyone we have met here has been so welcoming and friendly, from the Craft Center to chemistry and art history professors to the Tech Athletics staff.”
Sandy says she is impressed with how the Craft Center’s workshops draw people from all over the state. In a recent ceramics workshop, she asked her classmates where they were from and was surprised by the answers.
“People told me they were from Murfreesboro, Memphis, Clarksville and beyond,” Sandy said. “I assumed that everyone in the class was from Cookeville. They’re not. They are from all across the state. That says a lot about how good the Craft Center is. The facility and materials are top notch.”
Tech’s Craft Center is a unique educational facility and cultural center that combines teaching, research, outreach and crafts marketing, all operating in partnership. The Center offers a bachelor of fine arts in five areas of concentration: glass, metals, clay, fibers and wood. In addition to its academic programs, the Craft Center also operates K-12 outreach, high school workshops, educator training, public workshops and a nationally-competitive artist in residency program.
Kim Winkle, director of Tech’s School of Art, Craft and Design and the Appalachian Center for Craft, says she is excited to share Reverence with visitors from both near and far.
“We hope that Reverence will inspire our students to strive for excellence in their work and find their unique artistic voice through their work,” said Winkle. “Reverence is a stunning example of both of those things, and we’re so honored and grateful to have the opportunity to share it with our students and the wider community who visit the Appalachian Center for Craft each year.”