Arts in the Gap is tied to the geography of Cumberland Gap and to the mission of Lincoln Memorial University to serve its students, its community, and the Appalachian region. This arts initiative is rooted in the area’s cultural history where a multitude of men, women and children, generation after generation, have understood the importance of the arts in composing a life, even a meager one. It is a long-standing tradition in these hills and hollers for a body to work full days in the field, mine, mill or factory, and then to return home to feast on fiddle music, Sacred Harp singing, quilt making, woodworking or crafting a well-told story. These are not quaint traditions of backwoods people, but rich traditions in the arts that have made their way out of the mountains and into the mainstream.
Our 2013 AITG faculty range from local bluegrass icons such at Claiborne County’s own Steve Gulley and Bell County’s Dale Ann Bradley, five-time reigning IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year to Lisa Soland, a prolific playwright and transplant from Los Angeles to Oak Ridge. We strive to draw on the talent in our own backyard as well as the gifted folks we welcome into our neck of the woods, such as award-winning documentary filmmakers Georgann Eubanks and Donna Campbell from Carrboro, North Carolina. Our intentions it so foster fellowship, encourage a plethora of ideas, and give rise to lively image-driven discourse from a host of voices.
Activities will take place in the town of Cumberland Gap, home to LMU’s developing arts complex, as well as on the LMU campus, five minutes away from Cumberland Gap village in Harrogate, Tennessee, or in the beautiful facilities and natural environment of the Cumberland Gap National Park.
Our hope is that our surroundings drive a good portion of what we do. To that end we have future plans for outdoor photography courses, environmental writing, birding, and this year we will initiate classes in plein air painting for both adults and young people as a step toward an annual plein air institute. The national park and its breathtaking scenery make the Gap a perfect place to paint on location, portable easel at the ready.
We want to thank our family of collaborators: the historic town of Cumberland Gap, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Cumberland River Music Academy, Cumberland Gap Arts Council, Cumberland Gap Tourism Committee, Southeast Community and Technical College, Humanities Tennessee, The Children’s Reading Foundation, The Appalachian Writing Project at University of Virginia at Wise, 52Weeks of Giving, Kingswood School, and Minnow Media. Our list of collaborators and potential collaborators continues to grow. The AITG staff also thank our in-house collaborators: our undergraduate and just-graduated fellows and interns, and the excellent faculty and staff at LMU who contribute so much time and energy to making this initiative a reality and contribute to its success.