In 1982 the Tennessee Arts Commission began placing large-scale sculpture at
Tennessee’s Interstate Welcome Centers. Originally conceived as a competition to erect
two pieces of public art at Tennessee’s eastern borders in honor of the 1982 Knoxville
World Fair, the program grew in years following to include eleven Welcome
Centers. Chosen to receive sculptures were Centers located around the State’s periphery
so that visitors coming into the State from any direction would be greeted by a major
work of public art.
Today these works of art stand as visual ambassadors for the State of Tennessee. All of
the works are by Tennesseans. The works represent, in style and in technical skill, the
impressive strength and diversity of Tennessee’s artistic community.
Since the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Art in Public Places program began, millions of
people have visited Tennessee’s Interstate Welcome Centers. The large scale pieces of
sculpture serve as conversation pieces for visitors and their families, distracting them for
a pleasant moment from the rigors of travel. The sculptures often become photographic
backdrops, both for art lovers and for these would say they have no particular interest in
art. Because they exist in three dimensions, these outdoor sculptures have become a part
of our visual vocabulary without our even realizing it. The public works of art at
Tennessee’s Welcome centers are not only an unexpected gift for the weary traveler but
also a lasting legacy of artistic education for future generations.
Susan W. Knowles
Please Click the numbers on the map above or on a link below to see the numbered site's art exhibit