Every combination of colors on the canvas of painter and University of Memphis art professor, Beth Edwards, shows a mix of emotions in
her constantly evolving life. What she says about her art is “that I always basically paint on the extremes.” Sometimes sad.
Sometimes joyful. Sometimes not how Beth is feeling at the moment, but how she wants to feel.
“So I made a choice to consciously start painting happier images even though
I personally did not feel happy.” – Beth Edwards, artist
The result is Beth’s eye-catching, smile-inducing “Happiness” series of oil paintings. A series that expresses human
pleasure through joyful, absurdly optimistic cartoonish characters in desirable settings. It was a powerful emotional shifting of gears
from a long period of painting pieces that focused on life’s sadder and more troubling moments.
“…and I was getting so depressed and I was getting overcome by a certain
sadness over everything in terms of real life and in terms of what I was
painting that I realized I couldn't keep going with that.” – Beth
As ‘models’ for her cheerful paintings, Beth uses the perpetually optimistic faces of dolls and figurines she has collected
over the years. She places them in happy moments of their lives, surrounded by a lush landscape filled with flowers, butterflies and
“Now I'm actually more involved in trying to give something back that is
healing and that is about an emerging in a sort of deep version of joy, so
that is probably my goal with my work above everything else right now.”
Could you use a dose of “Happiness?”… along with a look at some of Beth’s other works? Then pay a visit to her
website at www.bethedwards.com.
If we’re going to be honest about it, most of us have a stereotyped image of teenagers and poetry… being that anyone young
reacts to poems with a roll of the eyes and a bored look. Not true. Certainly not for the Tennessee high school students like Meagan
Rogers who take the stage during the state’s Poetry Out Loud competition.
“To me poetry allows me to express my feelings and vent all these
unwanted feelings I want to get out of my system. It makes me feel good.
Poetry is wonderful!” – Meagan Rogers, Meigs Co. High School
Each year, students like Meagan and others from schools across the states gather before an audience of family, teachers and peers to
express emotion through the rhyming words of classic and contemporary poets. Watching closely are judges who evaluate the delivery of
passion behind the words, without the effort being overwhelmed by too much performance.
“A lot of the judging is based on whether or not the student presented
the poem with affect. Because what happens then is we forget that we’re
presented with a poem. We experience the poem as if we are reading
it.” – Poetry Out Loud judge
Each Tennessee Poetry Out Loud competition includes winners from various school regions. The winner of the state competition goes on to
the possibility of receiving a scholarship at national finals in Washington D.C. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the Tennessee Arts
Commission. For more information, you can check out www.tn.gov/arts.
Roy Harper’s morning walk from his Manchester, Tennessee front porch to a backyard shed just a few hundred feet away looks like a
short and easy trip. But inside that shed, and inside Roy’s guitar case, the true travel time comes to light. Since 1945, Roy has
been singing and yodeling the tunes of former railroad man and iconic country music singer, Jimmie Rodgers. Songs of the trains and rails
Roy feels such a bond with.
“That steam locomotive mournful whistle affected more people than
anything mankind ever invented. And it affected me. I told my Mom
that’s an awful sad sound, she said makes me sad, I wish I could ride
one of them.” – Roy Harper, singer/painter
And Roy did ride the trains – as a brakeman, just like his singing hero, Jimmie Rodgers. Before that, Roy was singing and playing
with his Nashville Boys Band. But the railroad came calling, and Roy made the call to live the life of a wandering railroad man instead
of the uncertain life of a performer. But he never totally left music behind, and even though long ago retired from the railroad, Roy has
never lost his love for the romance of a steam locomotive. He puts brush to canvas to paint 15 train scenes a year. In oil paint and song,
Roy still keeps his trains running on time.