Cress Gallery Director and Curator Ruth Grover, left, and Mirel Crumb discuss Dan Miller’s artwork, which will be part of a new exhibition at the gallery.

If you go

What: “fearless & resilient,” exhibition by Ken Grimes, Laura Craig McNellis and Dan Miller
Where: Cress Gallery in the Fine Arts Center
When: Thursday, Nov. 16-Sunday, Dec. 10
Admission: Free
Also: Curated selection of works created by the emerging Artists of the AIM Center, Inc., Arts Program, Cress Gallery II.
Gallery hours: 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 1-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Information: Visit Cress Gallery’s website here.

UTC Cress Gallery of Art, in partnership with Chattanooga’s AIM Center,  presents “fearless & resilient” featuring a collection of works from artists Ken Grimes, Laura Craig McNellis and Dan Miller, all of whom have some form of disability.

A curated selection of works created by the emerging artists of the AIM Center’s arts program also will be displayed in Cress’ Gallery II.

“As I organized this exhibition over the last few months and as I discussed it with others, someone said to me in conversation, ‘Art is how we make sense of the world,’ and that has stayed with me.” says Cress Gallery Director and Curator Ruth Grover.

“How someone else makes sense of the world through art helps us, the viewers, expand our thinking, our vision, and our experience. It can be about history, science, philosophy, the everyday, the future, or just human nature, and I think visitors to the Cress will experience all of those with ‘fearless & resilient,'” she adds.

For any artist, the traits “fearless” and “resilient” are essential to survive, but that’s especially true for the trio in this exhibition, who fall into the category of “Outside” art, pieces done by self-taught artists.

“That’s something when Carmen Papalia was here, that really stuck with me—how people with disabilities can do more than survive,” says Mirel Crumb, a member of the Cress Gallery. “Having access to other aspects of life and doing more things than just existence.”

Papalia, who is legally blind, came to UTC in 2015 as part of the Diane Marek Visiting Artist Series. He defines himself as a non-visual learner.


About the artists

Artwork by Ken Grimes.

Ken Grimes (b. 1947, New York City) has spent nearly five decades studying his obsession with crop circles, UFOs, alien abductions, the paranormal and his own experiences with synchronicity and cosmic coincidence. He has investigated SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and Project Ozma, a 1960s initiative that searched for electromagnetic transmissions from civilizations in far-off stars. Diagnosed as schizophrenic, Grimes limits his palette to black and white, which he says is symbolic of deception and truth. He was one of 30 artists included in the American Folk Art Museum’s “Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century.” His work is in the collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other public and private collections world-wide. In recent years, he has been a resident at Fellowship Place in New Haven, Conn., a mental health and living facility that encourages =artistic creativity. His work appears in the Cress Gallery courtesy of Ricco Maresca Gallery of New York.

Laura Craig McNellis (b. 1957, Nashville) has been painting since childhood. At first she painted at night while her family slept, using scrap newsprint her father brought home from the postal facility where he worked. Developmentally disabled and autistic, McNellis uses ordinary materials such as scissors, watercolor and tempera paint in her work. The Cress Gallery exhibition provides provide a survey of the development of her work over time. Her work is included in public and private collections worldwide and appears in the Cress courtesy of Ricco Maresca Gallery of New York, and the Trust of Laura Craig McNellis in Mooresville, N.C.

Dan Miller (b. 1961, Castro Valley, Calif.) is described by his family as always drawing if paper and pen were available. Since 1982, Diagnosed with autism, Miller has worked with the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, Calif., a pioneering institution whose mission is to foster the aesthetic development of people with disabilities in the visual arts, emphasizing the quality of the work rather than the disability. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Ricco Maresca Gallery and White Columns, both in New York City, Galerie Christian Berst in Paris and NADA in Miami. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. Miller’s art is currently featured in the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia’s “Viva Arte Viva.”

Gallery II featured artists include Anita Bright, Jesse Crick, Ruby Ford, Shariece Hayes, David Hudson, Consuella Jackson, Rodrick McGee, Miriam Prepodnik, Bill Sera, Michael Tyous, Robert Waters, Charles Phillips and Demetrius Witherow.


About the AIM Center

Chattanooga’s AIM (achievement, independence and motivation) Center is a non-profit mental health promgram that empowers individuals to reclaim their independence as they successfully manage their mental illness. The center provides education, employment, housing, wellness and socialization to help adults be self-advocates of their mental health.

“Through the Diane Marek Visiting Artists Series, the Cress Gallery has placed a priority on its community outreach to the Aim Center Arts Program, by bringing our visiting artists to AIM, organizing activities when possible, and always providing access for AIM Members to our professional artists and their exhibitions,” says Grover.

Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call 423-425-4363.
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