Tuesday, June 17, 2008


EDITORIAL CONTACT: Lisa L. Rollins, 615-898-2919, or Melissa Zimmerman, 615-217-8013

Nationally Known Artist Anfinson, MTSU Students Undertake History-Meets-Art Endeavor,
Public Invited & Encouraged to Watch Artists Create Jazz Age Mural at Heritage Center

(MURFREESBORO)—The bygone era known as the Jazz Age will soon find new life via art in downtown Murfreesboro with the inspired aid of Erin Anfinson, assistant professor of art at MTSU, who will return to The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County to complete a new mural depicting this historic time.
Beginning July 1 and continuing through mid-August, Anfinson—along with MTSU students Emily May-Ragland and Sarah Sullivan—will avidly work each afternoon to create a Jazz Age-inspired mural, more than 6 feet tall and nearly 20 feet long, which depicts “flappers and Dapper Dans on a night out in Murfreesboro.”
A member of MTSU’s art faculty since 2006, Anfinson “has designed a mural that reflects the Jazz Age’s energy and art deco aesthetics,” said Melissa Zimmerman, heritage programming specialist for the Center for Historic Preservation.
“Art deco design, patterns and color palettes have always struck me as exceptionally lively and fun subject matter, which made conducting research for this project a pleasure,” said Anfinson, referring to the upcoming project and art deco style, which was a popular international design movement from 1925 until 1939.
“The design for this mural stemmed from photos, art deco designs and illustrations from the 1920s,” she continued. “The Heritage Center folks suggested that the mural reflect a sense of 1920s nightlife or illustrate a ‘speakeasy’ feel. I looked at a lot of paintings and illustrations and decided to work in the final design with several couples dancing and socializing at a bar. The background is going will be directly from an art deco, stained-glass pattern I found.”
Moreover, the nationally recognized artist said she felt the new mural was a unique opportunity for some of the department’s student talent to further hone their painting skills.
“Both of these women have impressed me as exceptional students in our department, and I'm thrilled to bring their ideas and technical talents to this project,” Anfinson said. “Because the students were so busy with their studies this (past) semester, I did most of the research for the basic design myself. I've given them drafts of design ideas throughout the process and we will inevitably be collaborating on the final details and color choices.”
Anfinson said the students’ involvement in the hands-on process of creating the mural will be “pretty intense” from the project’s start to finish.
“I really wanted this project to be a practical experiential learning and professional development opportunity for the students involved,” she explained. “I don't think either of them have worked on a commissioned painting this large before and I hope this will be a valuable professional experience they can draw on in the future.
“All in all, they will be completing a bulk of the actual sketching, painting, color mixing, et cetera, as a team. They are both very talented women,” Anfinson added, “and I'm extremely excited about completing this project with them and know they will do an excellent job.”
As for theme of the history-inspired mural, Zimmerman said, “The choice of art deco
style also brings to mind such lost architectural treasures as Murfreesboro’s Princess Theatre, which once sat on the corner of College and Maple streets, lit up with neon lights and showing the best Hollywood had to offer—just a half-block away from the Heritage Center.”
Zimmer said the original mural will serve as the backdrop for an expanded exhibit titled Entering the Modern Era: Murfreesboro’s Jazz Age, which looks at the events, people, and institutions that helped to transform Murfreesboro and Rutherford County during this early 20th century era of expansion, growing urban sophistication and depression-era hardship. The work by Anfinson and her students will be supported by the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, which also sponsored the original Jazz Age exhibit.
Officially starting work on the mural July 1, Anfinson, along with May-Ragland and Sullivan, said they anticipate painting nearly every afternoon, with a goal of completing the mural by mid-August—just in time for the expansion of the current exhibit, which will be completed in September and will further explore this era of great social change and growth.
“I am excited to be working with the Heritage Center again this summer and was honored to have been asked to complete this new mural,” remarked Anfinson, who is perhaps best known for her landscape paintings that have gained national attention with showings in galleries from New York to Nashville.
Additionally, recent exhibits of her works have been held at both the TAG Art Gallery and Ruby Green Contemporary Art Center in Nashville, as well as the completion of the Occupied Murfreesboro mural she painted for the Heritage Center last summer, which is on display at the center’s main exhibit gallery as part of a permanent Civil War exhibit for the City of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.
Located at 225 W. College St., the center is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily each Monday through Friday, excluding major holidays. Admission is always free and the public is invited to watch the new mural’s creation.
For more information on the center, including current exhibits, visitors’ information on area sites, cultural events, programming or guided walking tours, please contact the center directly at 615-217-8013.


ATTENTION, MEDIA: To request an interview with artist Anfinson, please contact Lisa L. Rollins in the Office of News and Public Affairs at MTSU by calling 615-898-2919 or via e-mail at lrollins@mtsu.edu. To interview The Heritage Center’s Zimmerman, please contact her directly at 615-217-8013 or via e-mail at mzimmerm@mtsu.edu.
Media are welcomed and encouraged to photograph the artists at work but the courtesy of advance notice is requested. A jpeg of Anfinson is available upon request by e-mailing Rollins at lrollins@mtsu.edu.

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