Artwork by Sergio Martinez Avila

Artwork by Sergio Martinez Avila

New exhibits at Emporium Center

April 5–27, 2024

The Arts & Culture Alliance presents five new exhibitions at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville from April 5-27. A free gathering with the artists takes place Friday, April 5, from 5-9 p.m.and features music byMarble City Opera.

GoFigure: Exploring Three-Dimensional Figurative Artin the upper gallery
This new exhibition, created by GoFigure Guild members, illustrates how the vision and skill of talented makers can transform figurative art beyond what is typically thought to be a “doll” or a toy. Three-dimensional figurative art has evolved over the years to include a wide range of artistic styles and mediums. The figures included in the exhibition incorporate a variety of materials such as paper clay, polymer clay, fabric, wood, feltand natural or synthetic wool. Each piece is an original work of art which requires a wide range of skills to create; including sculpting, painting, costumingand creating structure and framework to present the figure. Each work of art can take weeks, or in some cases months, to complete.

GoFigure Guild is a mixed media group that creatively explores the art of the figure. The guild is made up of over 30 doll makers from Mitchell, Yancey, Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Transylvania, and Wilson Counties in North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; and Knoxville, Tennessee. The abilities of the members range from beginner to professional doll makers. In 2023, they exhibited at Mars Hill University’s Weizenblatt Gallery in Mars Hill, North Carolina, and they maintain an ongoing exhibit at the I-26 West North Carolina Welcome Center. Professional doll makers in the group exhibit individually both regionally and nationally, through galleries and such organizations as the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, National Institute of American Doll Artists, Foothills Craft Guild, Toe River Arts Council, and the Blue Ridge Arts Trail.

Julie L. Rabun: Passages and Theresa D. Williams: Mountain Water and Starsin the lower gallery
Julie L. Rabun is the Chair of the Art Department and Professor of Art at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City. She grew up in Knoxville and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture from Rhode Island School of Design. After working professionally in Architecture, she returned to graduate school to complete a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University. Since 2002 she has taught Graphic Design in the Carson-Newman University Art Department. She also works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. She and her husband Michael Bobo collaborate on RaboDesign, which features his woodworking and her mixed media landscape paintings and photography.

"My work utilizes a process that integrates visual imagery and typography with direct meaning and as textural elements within mixed-media artworks. Typically, I depict landscapes from places I have personally visited. I reference from my own photographs and memories of the place. Each landscape acts as an introspective journey that becomes an atmospheric representation of the location. In addition to using photography as an inspiration for mixed-media artworks, I use photography as a stand-alone medium to document experiences," Rabun says.
Instagram: @rabodesign

For many the favorite time of year to visit the mountains is the fall; for others, perhaps the winter. For Theresa D. Williams, if there is a time when photographing a mountain landscape can be most compelling, it would be in the spring. During the spring season the mountains speak loudly to those often heard adjustives, rebirth and rejuvenate. Earthly and heavenly scenes of color and light signal the arrival of new life against a backdrop of powerful, snowmelt falling water. Sometimes seen in harmony as a single frame. The purpose of her exhibition is to reveal details in such scenes and perhaps provoke lingering questions or dwell in contemplation. How does a photograph speak to the beauty offered by nature; what elements within an image hold the eye of the viewer? What stirs their mind, their emotions? At the very least this collection of photographs is shared to encourage the viewer to go into the mountains, witness and enjoy for themselves the wonder of the water and stars. Taking with them memories and mindful concern of what can be so easily destroyed, if allowed.

Sergio Martinez Avila, Eddie Estefano Martinez and Isaura Valeria Martinez Cerrito: Contemporary Sentimentsin the Atrium
This new exhibition showcases artwork by Sergio Martinez Avila and his children, Estefano and Valeria, who live and work in Cantarranas, Honduras. They have previously exhibited at the Emporium in 2022 and as part of International Latino Art exhibitions in 2016 and 2018.

Sergio Martinez Avila has 36 years of professional experience with primitivism (1989-1998), genre painting (1999-2005) and figurative art. He has exhibited in various cities in Europe, Asia, Canada, the United States and Latin America. In Honduras, he has participated in auctions, biennials, symposia, salons and anthologies.

Instagram @Sergiomartinez6857

Eddie Estefano Martinez is an emerging artist who started his career at the age of 13. He is a naturalist-style landscaper who touches on themes of self-perception, nature taking its place in the face of deforestation, reflections, dreams, and the environment. He has participated in mural meetings in his hometown, where he has also exhibited his works, as well as in other parts of the country and internationally. He is currently studying architecture at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

Instagram @estefano.martinez_art
Facebook:Estefano Martinez

Isaura Valeria Martinez Cerrito is an emerging artist who began her career at the age of 12. Her style is figurative representation with customary themes in a cubist style. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and is recognized for carrying out muralist activity in her place of origin as of 2019. She studies Civil Engineering at the Catholic University of Honduras.

Stephen Brayfield: Recent Workon the North Wall
Stephen Brayfield has lived and worked in Knoxville since 2008 but is originally from Chicago where he studied drawing/printmaking, scientific illustration, and anatomical rendering at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also studied illustration and fine art at the American Academy of Art, The School of Representational Art, and the Palette and Chisel in Chicago. He received a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in studio art from Northeastern Illinois University where he discovered watercolor and has since painted in this medium.

"While I am influenced by surrealism, I am more a representational realist with an Americana element that I refer to as "'southern gothic.' I paint with transparent watercolors on 300 lb. Arches paper. Gradually layering light to dark, I avoid the use of opaque white or black paint. The darker tones you see are made by mixing less diluted complimentary colors and the white areas are simply the white of the paper carefully painted around or masked off. Recently I have started mounting some of my work on cradled panels and sealing them with cold wax medium, giving them an appearance similar to egg tempera. These watercolors can be hung without a frame, mat and glass.

Contact the artist atstephen.brayfield@gmail.comto discuss requests for a pet or human portrait commission.

Works by Janis Proffittin the display case
Janis Proffitt is a native Knoxvillian. Her roots run deep in the Smoky Mountains. Her great-great-grandfather owned a sawmill in the Greenbrier area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For over 25 years, she and her sister ran their father’s woodshop in Pittman Center, Tennessee. In the 1980s she taught herself wood burning that she incorporates on to her pieces. With her rich Southern Appalachian Heritage, she creates both traditional and contemporary wood turnings, and her work comes from the head, the heart, and hands.

Instagram @janis1709

The exhibitions are on display at the Emporium Center, 100 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, Tennessee. The Emporium is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. on Thursday,April 11, April 18, and Friday, April 26 for Gallery 1010 openings. Most of the works on exhibition arefor sale and may be purchased by visiting in person or the online shop at For more information, seewww.knoxalliance.comor call (865) 523-7543.

Category: Exhibits