Sophi Odling painted through unseasonably warm October heat to complete Tullahoma’s latest mural, Shift, earlier this month. Odling, who lives in Australia, flew into Tennessee for 11 days to create Tullahoma’s first international piece of public art on the side of Rigney HomeCraft at 209 SE Atlantic St.
DMA-events President Kristin Luna says Odling had been on the nonprofit’s radar for some time.
“We connected with Sophi a few years ago after she found our program through Wisteria Maiden artist JUURI, and we immediately were drawn to the whimsy of her work and bold use of color,” Luna says. “We were just waiting for the right project to come along, and when Andy reached out to offer the side of his new showroom for a piece of public art, it was seamless. One of our goals when curating big installations like these for our community is to introduce different artistic sparks to the landscape and to reflect the immense diversity of possibilities available within the framework of large-scale art. Andy understood that from the beginning.”
Odling’s children—specifically, “watching the pure innocence and their journeys as they grow,” she says—are a major source of inspiration in her work, and Shift features a repetitive portrait of her daughter Hunter.
“This piece celebrates the evolution of individual identity,” the artist explains. “It seeks to create a moment—a brief incident of self-reflection, a powerful memory, an open invitation to explore transitions from one place or state to the next that ignite conversations about shifting identities, attitudes, and histories.”
Rigney HomeCraft founder Andy Rigney, a Tullahoma native and the host of the artwork, started his fine cabinetry business in 2016; earlier this year, he opened his first showroom downtown to expand the company’s services to the community.
“I was excited to participate in bringing art to downtown Tullahoma and could not be more pleased with the mural Sophi created on our showroom. As a musician and someone who enjoys the creative process, watching the mural come to life over seven days was magical,” Rigney says. “Tullahoma has much to offer residents, guests, and the business community. The addition of unique art and business offerings makes our community special, and my family is thankful to be part of it. I appreciate all of the folks working to make Tullahoma better, especially the contributions Kristin and Scott continue to make.”
This mural was made possible by a Tennessee Arts Commission Creative Placemaking grant. The Tennessee Arts Commission offers a variety of opportunities to encourage participation in arts activities in communities across all 95 counties. Residents who purchase the Arts Tennessee Specialty License Plate for their vehicle help support mural projects like these across the state.
About the artist
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Sophi Odling grew up in Sydney, where she currently lives and works. Odling completed her BFA at UNSW College of Fine Arts and started painting murals in 2017 after a 14-year career in fashion. Her public art is now spread across Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Central and North America. Her work, which often features her nine-year-old daughter and five-year-old son, focuses on celebrating the acceptance of cultural diversity, borderless minds, and the innocence of youth.
About DMA-events, Inc.
Journalists Kristin Luna and Scott van Velsor started 501(c)(3) DMA events in May 2018 as a catalyst to provide free access to art to rural communities throughout the South. They’ve since curated the installation of more than 50 large-scale murals in cities across the state, including Manchester, McMinnville, Viola, Lawrenceburg, Tracy City, Knoxville, Maryville, Sweetwater, Madisonville, Centerville, Columbia, Nolensville and Nashville. Shift is DMA’s 14th outdoor mural in Tullahoma, in addition to two interior pieces at Tullahoma Virtual Academy and Beechcraft Heritage Museum and an emerging artists gallery behind Memories Antiques.
Photos credit: Odinn Media