Tennessee Tech News


Burnett paintings continue basketball player’s legacy


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Tennessee Tech Vice President of Student Affairs Marc Burnett displays one of his paintings inspired by an Alcoa basketball player.

Published Thursday Jan 3, 2019

Marc Burnett’s chance encounter with an Alcoa basketball player has turned into an unexpected passion.

Hannah Tate was a star basketball player in her hometown of Alcoa. She passed away at the young age of 19 from a rare kidney cancer, but Burnett’s encounter with her a year before she was diagnosed gave him an idea that he hopes will continue her legacy.

“She was at a summer basketball camp here when I met her and her teammates in the elevator of the University Center,” said Burnett, who is Tech’s vice president of student affairs.

He noticed their Alcoa gear, which is also his hometown, but one girl stood out.

“There was something about her that I knew she was a Tate,” he said. “I played basketball with her dad and uncle in high school, so I know the family pretty well.”

Burnett started a brief conversation with them and found out that the girl’s name was Hannah.

“This was our ‘one meeting,’” he recalled.

Even though they never met again, he followed her basketball career up until she was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumor in 2014.

“Next thing I knew, she passed,” Burnett said.

Her funeral was a celebration of her life and Burnett wanted to do something on that same level.

“Hannah appreciated every day,” he said.

‘Hannah’s Horizons’

“I have been painting for 18 years,” Burnett said. “It’s an amazing stress reliever.”

He began painting after he got into a car accident and friends brought him a watercolor paint set to keep him busy.

“I became obsessed with sunrises and sunsets,” Burnett said. “Life changes so fast we don’t know when the next one is. We take them for granted and most of us don’t even pay attention.”

And that is how Hannah’s Horizons was born.

Each sunrise and sunset are unique. And it’s through that uniqueness that makes each one of Burnett’s paintings different.

“I have 4,000 pictures of sunrises and sunsets on my phone and iPad,” he said. “I’ve gotten many from Saint Croix, Virgin Islands, Daytona Beach and while in an airplane, among other places.”

A lot of those are also from Cookeville.

“I paint these from the perspective of those who have a terminal event or situation who know that their last sunrise or sunset could be any time,” he said.

Over the last 18 months, he has painted 60 renderings of sunrises and sunsets and wants to put them on display. One show would be in Alcoa, another here in Cookeville.

The first exhibit will be Saturday, Jan. 26, from 6-9 p.m. (EDT) and an art demonstration for children will be held that previous Friday, Jan. 25, from 3-6 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Alcoa. Originals and prints will be available for purchase there.

“I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to kick off the exhibition in my hometown in honor of Hannah and her family,” Burnett said.

He is also in the process of setting up a website to sell originals and/or prints.

The proceeds would honor Hannah by funding cancer research.

“These paintings are near and dear to me,” he said. “It’s my way of giving back.”

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