Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE — After 18 months of work, students from the University of Tennessee’s sculpture program in the School of Art will help install a steel gate they designed and forged for James Agee Park near campus.

Workers from UT Facilities Services, students, faculty and community members, including singer and poet RB Morris and architect Randall De Ford, will take part in the installation at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, in the park at the corner of Laurel Avenue and James Agee Street in Fort Sanders.

The students created a 10-foot-tall hinged gate of three sections that weighs more than a ton. An all-terrain hydraulic forklift will be used to install it.

“Traditionally, gates and fences are structures to mark boundaries, but I think that the Agee gates will generate a public curiosity and invite the people into the park. This project is a gift of students’ creativity, time and labor to the community. It will have a lasting impact well into the future,” said Jason S. Brown, associate professor of sculpture.

The park was founded in 2003 and formally dedicated in 2005 in honor of Agee, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “A Death in the Family” who grew up in Fort Sanders. The park has continued to receive improvements in landscaping and structures thanks to volunteer work, donations and community grants.

The gate design was inspired by the park site and local trees and flora, and it originated with a drawing by recent UT graduate Karly Stribling, lead fabricator in the project. Taylor Wallace, UT School of Art alumnus, also shared in the hard work of forging, welding and finishing the steel in the sculpture metal shop on campus. Although Stribling and Wallace were students when the project began, both have since graduated and are moving forward in their respective careers as professional artists.

“I feel as if ‘The Gate’ is a real thesis piece at the end of my undergraduate experience at the University of Tennessee sculpture department. Taylor and I are proud of it, and hope that it will be considered a fine public art addition to James Agee Park as well as the city of Knoxville,” Stribling said.


Elizabeth Davis, UT Media Relations, (865) 974-5179,

Jason Brown, (865) 974-3225,

Randall De Ford, (865) 673-0743,