Orgs fund Cumberland Gap art project

Exciting things are coming to Cumberland Gap thanks to a successful collaboration between the town and local artist Caroline Hatfield. The partnership was facilitated by a newly formed non-profit in town called Guardians of the Gap. The organization aims to help protect cultural and natural resources, preserve the history and spirit of the town and promote movement and tourism.

The project concept ‘Still: Cumberland Gap’ is a cross-sector public art project funded by the South Arts Organization with support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). This cross sector impact grant will allow the project team to create an engaging, thoughtful and relevant artistic experience that calls folks back to remember and learn about where they are.

The final product of this project will be a multi-stop tour through the town of Cumberland Gap that allows participants to move between different important sites. Each site will host a sculptural memory touchstone that serves as an entry point to reading, listening and learning more about the lived experience of the historic town.

Rather than referring to this as a walking tour, the team calls it a moving tour to be more inclusive in imagining the ways people might move from site to site.

“We want everyone to be able to participate in this experience and have chosen our sites to align with that mission,” said Guardians of the Gap spokespersons.

The artist Caroline Hatfield brings a deeply rooted sense of place to the project. Her orientation toward landscape, story and metamorphosis brings a valuable offering. The artistic component of this project will focus on the material narrative of the town and how that story parallels the lives lived there. As someone raised here, the creeks, mountains and ridges around Cumberland Gap formed Hatfield’s earliest concepts of horizon, landscape and geography. In her work on this project, Hatfield will reach backward and forward through time, visually, materially and conceptually in order to understand the natural and human history that brought us to our present moment as a community.

The project team is calling for the community to help them gather and collect stories, images, documents and other materials to establish the archive necessary for the project. The team plans to record multigenerational stories about Cumberland Gap and the surrounding area.

If you have a personal or family story about Cumberland Gap, please email the team at guardiansofthegap@gmail.com or call the project hotline at 865.245.9454.

Guardians of the Gap is a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The purposes of Guardians of the Gap are to combat community deterioration, erect and/or maintain public community spaces, organize, plan and host community related events, increase visibility, attractiveness and quality of life for the local community as a whole and support strategic short-term and long-term planning. The organization also wants to provide educational and informational resources about the history of Cumberland Gap to the immediate and surrounding community, as well as visitors, all in an effort to combat community deterioration and lessen neighborhood tensions.

If you would like more information about this topic, please call Zach Greene at 865-585-1710 or email guardiansofthegap@gmail.com.