Walters State Community College has dedicated a permanent outdoor sculpture to the late Steve Roberts of Greene County. Roberts was head of college’s art department when he died in 2008.
“Steve advocated more exposure to the arts and more artwork on our campuses. I do not know of a better or more fitting tribute to someone who loved art, his classroom and the land,” said Dr. Wade McCamey, president of Walters State.
“While Steve was an excellent instructor, he was also a very well-respected artist with an expertise and talent in pottery. Steve was also a lifelong farmer. His absence is still felt on campus,” McCamey said.
The sculpture is entitled “Stay” and was created by artist Jason S. Brown. The work features a bench made of Tennessee marble with a rising obelisk that gives way to a small ladder climbing above, and out of, the sculpture.
The placement is deliberate and could be considered part of the sculpture. Sitting in a shady spot just outside of the art wing of the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex on the college’s Morristown campus, the art seems to call to those passing, encouraging them to sit and enjoy the view.
The Walters State Foundation commissioned the work following the desire of Walters State faculty and staff to honor Roberts’ legacy. The sculpture was made possible due to the generosity of donors at Walters State and in the community.
A quote from Kentucky writer Wendell Berry is etched into the side of the bench: “When we no longer know which way to go, we have come to our real journey.”
The quote is from Berry’s poem “The Real Work.” A recipient of the National Humanities Medal and many writing awards, Berry lived and taught college at several prestigious universities before giving up the academic life for full-time farming. Berry granted Walters State permission to use the quote.
“Steve was equally passionate about teaching art and farming. He was the rare person who could move with ease from speaking about the work of European artists during the Renaissance to speculating on the effects a drought was having on this year’s crop,” said Dr. James Crawford, retired associate vice president of academic affairs and dean of humanities at Walters State. Crawford and Roberts worked together for many years.
The public is invited to visit the campus and enjoy the sculpture. For more information, contact the Division of Humanities at (423) 585-6922.
CUTLINE: Walters State Community College is now home to a permanent, outdoor sculpture placed as a memorial to the late Steve Roberts, former head of the art department. At the memorial are, from left, Carla Todaro, dean of humanities; Dr. James Crawford, retired associate vice president of academic affairs and dean of humanities; and Dr. Mark Hurst, vice president of college advancement and treasurer of the Walters State Foundation.