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The School of Art lost a valued friend and colleague, Professor Michael Brakke, who died Sunday, March 21.

Brakke came to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1981. He was an outstanding teacher who was profoundly dedicated to his undergraduate and graduate students.

Before coming to UT, he taught at Oakland University in Michigan, the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle Campus.

During his time in Chicago, he received much professional recognition for his innovative artwork that expanded the boundaries of painting through the use of photography, video and the computer as a new interactive way of developing images, surface and space. He used this important component in his teaching here, which added breadth to the entire curriculum, according to his colleagues of the school.

Brakke was instrumental in the development of a very successful Artist-in-Residence Program for UT Knoxville that over the past 25 years has brought nearly 75 professional artists to the School of Art to teach, lecture and exhibit. Due to his diligence, caring and expertise, this program continues to thrive and have an enormous impact on the painting and drawing program and the school.

Brakke received his M.F.A. from Yale University. Throughout his career he received numerous research grants from UT Knoxville, the University of Illinois, and Oakland University. In 1985-86 he received a National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Artists Fellowship Grant.

His work has been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; The High Museum of Art Atlanta; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. His work has been the subject of reviews in publications including Art Forum, The New Art Examiner, Arts Magazine, Art News, and Art in America.

His most recent work used materials ranging from cast polyester resin to computer modified or generated images output as Iris prints which have been included in group shows at the Bill Maynes Gallery, New York, and were the subject of a solo exhibition at the College of Santa Fe.

During last month’s Faculty Appreciation Week, one student shared his thoughts about Brakke, which were published in a related story in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

“Sometimes I think you have a third eye,” wrote the student, who signed his name JF. “Your perception is beyond belief when it comes to painting, as well as the artists themselves. You have an intimate understanding of the innermost workings of the critique.”

Read more about Brakke or view his work, visit

The School of Art will plan a special memorial service for Brakke. Details will be announced as they are determined.

Note: Images are samples of Brakke’s artwork.