Category: UTC

First Friday

Written by Mark Drinkard

Once a month, art galleries across Chattanooga collectively open their doors to the public for special gallery showings. The event, coined “First Friday” allows local Chattanoogans and tourists to see new art pieces, mingle with artists, and support their local community.

One gallery spearheading the event in Chattanooga is Area 61. Keeli Crewe has been the curator of Area 61 since its inception in 2009. Crewe is the first face one will see when visiting Area 61, and it is clear from her vibrant smile that she is living her dream. 

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Chattanooga Creatives Strike Again

Written by: Madison Van Horn

Strike Chattanooga’s founders, Maggie Schut, Marli Geidt, and Carianna Hunter (left to right) celebrate the launch of Issue 02 of Strike Chattanooga. November 20,2021 (Photo By Madison Van Horn)
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The Field Below

Written by Jerrod Niles

Across the greater Chattanooga area lies fertile soil which farmers nurture to cultivate life. Their soil is the vehicle to meet many beyond their own sphere — even the art world.

Local Chattanooga artist Amanda Brazier has been painting solely with pigments pulled from soil for the past 14 years. Holly Martin, owner of Gaining Grounds Grocery saw the potential to connect Brazier’s unique art medium with her mission to create a sustainable grocery alternative for Chattanooga’s food desert. 

As soon as it was proposed to Brazier, she had an immediate and organic idea. “When [Martin] approached me about the idea of a mural connecting all these ideas, I mean it just came to me immediately.” 

Brazier knew she could take the soil from Chattanooga farmers and create a beautiful mural for the grocery store.

The idea was to create a mural that is made of pigments from local sources as well as farms that provide inventory to Gaining Grounds Grocery. Then began the rush to gather soil from Chattanooga farmers, community gardens and other local means.  Brazier and Martin gathered a list of over 10 farms that supply the store with their produce and took to the fields to gather soil.

Jars of Amanda Brazier’s homemade paint sit and settle at her studio. Saturday, September 11, 2021(Photo by Jerrod Niles)

Brazier interviewed the farmers about the history of the lands they work and what connects them to the soil under their fingernails.

“It’s a life blood. Without the soil and beautiful greenery and forage it provides, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” explains Mack Haynes of the Ocoee Creamery, one of the many farms Brazier visited.

Creating the paint for the mural was one of the toughest parts of the process. Brazier usually creates her paint to be water based, but needed to change her medium to fit the project. To create a durable and long-lasting mural, she chose to use acrylic paint.

“I’ve learned from this experience and most of what I’ve learned is that making acrylic paint from these soil pigments is tricky. Every dirt is different and requires lots of time to understand how much of each [ingredient] is required.”

To engage the community in this process, the first day of painting began with a community paint day at Gaining Grounds Grocery store. Many members of the local area joined and got the base layers on the mural laid down, but it left Brazierwith plenty of work to finish up in her studio. Luckily, she has two assistants and two bright-eyed sons to lend a hand.

Amanda Brazier creates paint from dirt for her next mural. Saturday, September 11, 2021 (Photo by Jerrod Niles)

With the mural finished, the final piece was revealed at Gaining Grounds Grocery. A reveal party was held at the Saint Andrews church where the grocery is located. Garnished with vegan foods and local dirt experts, the event was lively with new faces and like minded individuals. 

The two-piece mural project hangs currently in the entrance hall of Gaining Grounds Grocery and inside the store itself. Alongside the mural is a key that associates each paint color with the location of the dirt that created that pigment. 

The goal of The Field Below project was to connect the community with the local farmers that supply the grocery with produce. At the unveiling, community members, Brazier and the people who bring Gaining Grounds Grocery’s mission to life mingled and gathered to share a meal. 

This artistic rendition of the connection between community, agriculture, and food reignites the appreciation of the substance we all walk upon.


Jerod Niles is a multimedia producer who specializes in camera operation and post-production. Niles has over 5 years of experience in media production and is always looking towards the future. He is currently working on multiple freelance jobs as well as a media internship for Wanderlinger Brewery. You can find more of his work as well as contact information on his portfolio here: https://www.jerrodniles.com/

Behind the Masks

Written by Dave Whalen

Jessica Ann York looks out over the Tennessee River. Jessica was cosplaying as Hawks from the anime and manga series My Hero Academia. Tuesday, November 2, 2021 (Photo by Seth Carpenter)

All was well in Coolidge park as a band of cosplay superheroes patrolled to keep the peace. Should a villian arrive to foil the fun, could these three actually stop a catastrophe of epic proportions? Hopefully we’ll never find out, but they sure looked the part. 

Jora Burnett, Jessica York, and Mica Morgan are three friends who have been cosplaying together since 2019 here in Chattanooga. When they’re not maintaining their secret identities Morgan and Burnett being art teachers and York a writer who specializes in horror, these three come together after hours forming group cosplays stylizing their favorite characters.

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Friendly Neighborhood Fred

Written by Madison Van Horn

Fred Holland, A Chattanooga local smiles at the camera, showing off his F-shaped gold front tooth. Wednesday, October 20, 2020 (Photo by Maggie Weaver)

In the heart of Chattanooga, one man strives to create a safe and united community through spreading kindness, one yard at a time.

Fred Holland is a Chattanooga native who is known and loved by many in his neighborhood for always lending a helping hand. On any given day, you can expect to find Fred somewhere on Flynn Street or East 8th Street mowing his neighbors’ lawns free of charge, chatting with community members or volunteering at the Salvation Army. No matter what, Fred always boasts a smile on his face and love in his heart.

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Who Brings Christmas in September?

Written by Virginia Campbell

Santa Steve Woodward arrives on UT-Chattanooga’s campus. (Photo by Kalie Shaw)

Near the end of an 80 degree day, Santa Steve Woodward cheers down Oak Street by Lockmiller Apartments on UTC campus in his old-timey Santa suit: a red robe, lined with brown fur, down to the ankles of his black boots, complete with a matching Santa hat and a dainty pair of spectacles. Having listened to Christmas music during his drive to campus, he’s already radiating the warm spirit of Christmas and asking students walking down the street whether they’ve been good this year.

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One Year of COVID-19

The class of 2020 sit on Chamberlain field for their socially distanced graduation. Photo by Billy Weeks

Campus is beginning to look the way it did before COVID-19 pushed students, faculty, and staff to return home and begin learning and teaching classes online. The students of Rising Rock Media were tasked with a project for UTC’s Student Government Association: A Year of COVID-19. The class was split into three groups and covered the past, the future, and a general overview of life in the pandemic. Our hope is that this series helps our friends, classmates, and teachers to feel stronger about the challenges that we overcame together, and provide a light into an unknown, but brighter future.

Ink Uncovered

Written by Nessa Parrish

Nessa Parrish sits with Dick Cutter for her newest tattoo. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

Whenever I get a new tattoo, I get a feeling that I was always supposed to have that piece of art on my body, as if the tattooing process is uncovering the pictures hidden underneath my skin, rather than putting them there.

My tattoos serve many purposes aside from looking cool, although that is a bonus. I like to think that my tattoos are marks on a timeline that just happens to be my body. Even though most of the dates hold no significance, I can recite the days that I got each of my tattoos. My goal is to get at least one new tattoo each year, and for that tattoo to serve as a mental anchor, reminding me of what my life looked like at that point in time.

Monday, December 12, 2016, my eighteenth birthday had arrived and I was finally able to get a tattoo. My mother had a friend that owned a tattoo shop that was normally closed on Mondays, but he opened it that night for the sole purpose of giving me a tattoo, and allowing four of my closest friends to come watch. I sat on the table, dressed in my Batman shirt and socks in preparation for my “Dark Knight” tattoo. My friends lined the wall that ran parallel to the table and giggled as the machine made that familiar buzzing sound, and then the words “are you ready?” filled the air. I nodded and then the needle met my skin as a uniquely exhilarating and painful sensation made itself at home in my left arm for the next 45 minutes. That feeling is one that I’ve grown to crave, as it is unlike any other, it hurts but it’s never to the point where it’s unbearable, making it something that I want to experience over and over. 

Nessa Parrish’s newest addition of ink. (Photo by Nessa Parrish)

My 2020 tattoo is a skull with a candle coming out of the head that was designed by Dick Cutter at Standard Ink Tattoo Co. Originally, I chose this design for the spooky aesthetic that came with it, but it evolved into a physical adaptation of one of my personal mantras, “be your own light.” That’s the fun part about tattoos, even the ones that aren’t initially full of meaning, can grow into something incredibly meaningful for the owner. 

Thrifting Mom

Liz Holliday, owner of the Thrifting Mom poses with packages she is going to send out to customers. (Photo By Kelly Kindle)

Liz Holliday, the owner of “Thrifting Mom”, is not a mother, but she will wear and sell your mother’s clothes. “It’s your mom’s clothes. I sell clothes that your mom probably used to wear,” says Liz. Liz has had a passion for thrifting ever since high school and since then has developed her passion into a business. “ I ship nationwide, and most of my customers are regulars who always come back”, Liz says. Liz’s account has a current following of 1,542 and her items are sold within minutes of being posted. The process of making posts for her thrifty finds is simple; having her models rep her latest finds stand in front of a linen bed sheet hung by two paperclips.  Liz gathers clothes from local thrift shops as well as from shops all over that are not the average Goodwill.

Thrifting Mom’s Instagram account. (Photo By Kelly Kindle)

“Thrifting is important to me because it helps reuse and recycles clothes that will more than likely just end up in landfills and ultimately damage the environment”, says Liz.  When individuals thrift, it helps boycott against supporting fast fashion.  “Fast fashion is brands such as Forever 21 and H&M, that overproduce really cheap clothing by means of cheap labor,” explains Liz. Many fast fashion brands have factories in foreign countries that do not pay their workers adequately, make them work in unsafe conditions, and place their waste in landfills.  “ I like to wear clothes that I thrift, because it’s sustainable fashion”, says Liz, “clothes that were made in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were just made differently than the clothes that are made today. I like the durability of the clothes I go for and the stories that are behind those individual pieces.” Liz helps raise awareness of fast fashion through her posts on her Instagram “@Thriftingmom”. Liz has an end goal of having an official online store. “ I didn’t think that this would continue for this long, but I definitely want this passion of mine to continue with me through the next chapters of my life”, says Liz. 

You can see her latest posts and thrifts you can buy on Instagram “@Thiftingmom”

Meet the Storyteller

McKenzie Carver

McKenzie Carver is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and pursuing a degree in Communication and Spanish. McKenzie is passionate about traveling and the people she meets along her travels. For inquiries or more information, contact her at dxy429@mocs.utc.edu.