Women's history month is 'art-ful' at Tennessee Tech

March marks Women's History Month, and at Tennessee Technological University, four simultaneous exhibits showcase the work of four very different women artists throughout campus, throughout the month.

A retrospective exhibit of paintings by Joan Derryberry serves as the inaugural exhibit in the newly renovated University Center Art Gallery March 3P30. The gallery will be officially named the Joan Derryberry Art Gallery in a dedication ceremony from 2P4 p.m. Sunday, March 24. The public is invited to attend the dedication.

Derryberry is an artist and wife of the late Everett Derryberry, former president of Tennessee Tech. Her works have been featured in at least 25 one-person shows throughout Tennessee, and among her many citations she counts the Cookeville Arts Council's Artist of the Year award. In addition to her romantic landscape paintings, she has made substantial contributions to the arts in this region as a member of the Board of Directors of Nashville's Cheekwood Museum, a member of the Tennessee Art League and a founding officer of the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Sally Crain-Jager, professor of art at Tennessee Tech and co-president of the University Art Committee, says "Joan Derryberry's paintings are a personal reflection of her English heritage, the middle Tennessee Landscapes, her family and her experiences. No one person has had as profound effect on the arts in this university, the community and this region as she has."

Award-winning quilter Libby Pettit, a Cookeville native and Tennessee Tech alumna, presents a collection of works in "Life, Love and Legacy: The Female Perspective" March 3P30 at Tennessee Tech's Bryan Fine Arts building. Pettit has displayed her work in such prestigious shows as the Quilters' Heritage Celebration, the Pennsylvania Contemporary Crafts Invitational, the Dallas Quilt Celebration and the 21st annual invitational show of the National Quilting Association. Her work has been seen locally at the Upper Cumberland Quilt Show and at the Cookeville Art Society.

Pettit says, "Several of my pieces are intended to recognize the power of women and the historical struggle for women's rights." The public is invited to attend the opening of the exhibit, which begins at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3. The artist presents a slide lecture from 3P4 p.m., and a reception follows from 4-5 p.m.

Pettit will also lead a workshop in fashion quilting from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 23-24, at the Craft Center. The workshop is open to all levels of experience and costs $85. Registration closes March 15.

Virginian artist Penny Truitt offers "Other Places: Raku-Fired Work," an exhibit of pottery at the Appalachian Center for Crafts March 1P29. A former archaeology student and museum curator, Truitt says "My recent work is a distillation of travels in the Southwest, back to places I had left more than 30 years ago -- places that provided solitary encounters with the land and with my own past.

"The clarity of edges, striations of earth and color, wind-worn expanses -- these are the forces that commanded my attention," she says.

Truitt's ceramic pots, sculptures and wall hangings incorporate the landscapes of the Southwest as well as those of Southern Virginia, where she now lives and works. The delicate, sweeping earthtones of Raku firing evoke wind-swept plains. "Raku offers an immediate involvement with each pot. It allows the unexpected," says Truitt.

Also at the Craft Center, "Beyond Belief Systems" features etchings, jewelry and books by multimedia artist Mollie Dash March 4-31. While the Virginia artist's work is not representational, she nonetheless feels strongly that her art serves the purpose of self-expression.

"Through my artwork," Dash writes, "I am granting myself an opportunity to communicate to a public audience. Each one of us has the ability and the right to do so. We should all take advantage."

The Craft Center is located near Smithville, Tenn., six miles south of Interstate 40, exit 273. The Craft Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily. For information about exhibits and workshops at the Craft Center, call (615) 372-3051 or (615) 597-6801.

For more details about art exhibits on the main campus, call the Department of Music and Art at (615) 372-3161.