Holly Hanson, director of Roane State Community College’s Cumberland County campus, and artist Craig A. Stevens are shown shortly before his artwork was placed on display along the main hallway of the campus.
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
CROSSVILLE – Six paintings – one of the New York City skyline the night before 9-11 and five of flags in different venues – have been loaned to Roane State’s Cumberland County campus by a multi-talented artist and engineer.
The paintings by artist Craig A. Stevens now grace the campus’s main hallway.
Each painting tells a powerful story, from the skyline just before the chaos of 9-11 to a tribute to military personnel listed as MIA from the Vietnam War. “Flags are very emotional,” Stevens says of his creations.
Roane educator Ann Morphew, a longtime friend of Stevens, encouraged the loan and called the artwork “a powerful, evocative gift.” Morphew and Stevens became friends while they were attending Cumberland County High School.
“It’s natural for an artist to show his work in different places,” Stevens said. He called the loan of his creations “an obligation of citizenship” and expressed hope they will “add value to the world.”
One creation depicts what Stevens calls “our contentious present,” while another painting “points to how we can turn our country around by remembering the basics.” Still another shows the five branches of the U.S. military. Powerful words, reflective of each topic, are subtly included in the series.
“The story behind Craig Stevens’ art we have on display sent shivers down my spine when he told me about each piece,” said campus director Holly Hanson. “I hope that students, faculty and visitors take the time to understand Craig’s messages as they enjoy the art.”
A signed print of one of the paintings, titled “The Melting Pot,” was given to J.C. Davis, an adjunct professor who teaches history at the Crossville Roane State campus. Davis taught Stevens and many others at Cumberland County High before continuing his teaching at Roane State.
Large prints of all of his flag series will later be given to Roane State for framing and display, the artist said. Prints are also available at his brother’s store in on Highway 70W in Crossville, called Pak Ratz, or can be ordered online at www.craigastevens.com.
Stevens said he became interested in art when he was a student at Cumberland County High School and his parents managed the Holiday Inn in Crossville.
While his interest in artistry remains unabated, Stevens became an engineer by profession. He has also taught statistics and business classes at several universities and colleges, including Roane State.
Stevens is also the author of a book, “Geronimo Stone,” and is a captain with the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary’s Civil Air Patrol’s Search and Rescue mission.