In late 2020, Arrowmont instructor and friend, Ashton Ludden, spent a series of days creating a new mural on Arrowmont’s campus. She shares her experiences and insights into the process and imagery in this blog article. Click the image or go to https://youtu.be/u-e5V5DGvVQ to view the video timelapse of the mural creation and read more below:
Painting the Arrowmont Lounge Mural
By Ashton Ludden
Then Covid hit…and I suddenly had time and motivation to revisit the idea. When an anonymous donor awarded $1,000,000 to instructors at Arrowmont and other craft schools so that we’d be compensated for the workshops that couldn’t run in 2020, I was fortunate and felt I didn’t need the money as much as Arrowmont. As an essential worker, my income was not impacted by Covid-19 in the way that many other people experienced in 2020. So I offered to donate back the money – in labor of the mural – to Arrowmont. Nick and I decided to complete the mural in the fall while weather was nice and campus was quiet as Arrowmont was utilizing that time for campus improvements.
The nature of all my work speaks to our relationship to wildlife. So, for this mural, I wanted to feature the incredible diversity of the flora and fauna of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, particularly because Arrowmont sits just one-mile from the park entrance!
Unlike most murals, I had the luxury of time, which was very pleasant because it felt like working in my studio at my own pace.
The most joy I had was the experience of wildlife while I painted, both in the GSMNP and on campus. While creating this mural, I saw multiple bears (one in a tree while trail running), a super cute, fat groundhog (aka whistle pig) that hangs around on campus, many wild turkeys, plus so many tiny creatures from moths to slugs hanging out with me in the tunnel as I painted.
- Black bear (Ursus americanus)
- Saw-whet owl (Aegolius acadicus)
- Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis)
- Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
- Racoon (Procyon lotor)
- Woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis)
- Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)
- Hellbender salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)
- juvenile Eastern red-spotted salamander (Notophthalmus viridescens)
- Black-chinned salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)
- Cave salamander (Eurycea lucifuga)
- Regal moth (Citheronia regalis)
- Lunar moth (Actias luna)
- Geometer moth (Geometridae)
- Water snake (Nerodia sipedon)
- Synchronized fireflies (Photinus carolinus)
- Blue Ghost fireflies (Phausis reticulata)
- Ghost Pipes (Monotropa uniflora)
- Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
- Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis)
- White Wood Aster ( Eurybia divaricata )
- Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
- Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus)
- Orange mycena (Mycena leaiana)
- Oligoporus persicinus (couldn’t find a common name)
Ashton Ludden is a printmaker, sign artist, and educator. She received her MFA in printmaking at the University of Tennessee in 2013 and her BFA in Engraving Arts & Printmaking at Emporia State University in 2009. Her animal-focused work has been shown nationally and internationally. Ashton Ludden is co-owner and founder of community artists space Relay Ridge in Knoxville and the lead sign artist for her local Trader Joe’s.