Tag: Chattanooga

Empowerment Through Movement

Written by: Mckenzie Carver

Sarah Yvonne displays her pointe shoes while practicing different ballet techniques at the bar.  Yvonne is the director of Ballet Esprit that is housed at The Spot Venue in downtown Chattanooga, TN. (Photo by Kelley Kindle)

“The revelation that exists within art is, to tell the truth. You have to be able to be expressive, to be able to project but also to be vulnerable. Good artists can’t be cagey and have walls up. Being vulnerable is the revolutionary heart of every art form, says Melissa.” 

   Melissa Miller is a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher at the dance studio located in Chattanooga Tennessee named “Ballet Esprit”. Growing up, Miller played soccer for some time, however, women do not have their own soccer league in Europe. That is when she decided to partake in something that women could have as their own, so she became a dancer at the age of 11. Miller danced all through middle and high school and traveled back to the states to earn her degree in dancing. She then moved to New York where she danced professionally for 5 years. After having her daughter, she came to the south where her husband’s family is from, thus landing her at Ballet Esprit. 

  “I grew up in a very artistic family.., so I always knew that my path would be in arts in some way,” says Miller.  “ I think the reason I connect the most with dance is that it is an all-encompassing experience; it takes your mind, spirit, and body. It is also a relational experience, it requires an ability to project and communicate with people,” says Melissa.  Miller says, “ I try less to share a message, but to ask a question, as honestly, humbly and with as much humanity as I can.”

Melissa Miller and Sarah Yvonne stand proudly side by side each other. Miller and Yvonne’s passion for dance has inspired them to express their art to the world through Ballet Esprit. (Photo by Kelley Kindle)

                History reveals that dance has always been a form of protest. “Dance is the only form of art that is directly tied to our bodies and physicality. This is important because as women, we can protest with our bodies against the social norms of how we are supposed to move and how our bodies are supposed to look,” says Miller.  The studio Ballet Espirit’s, next appearance will be The ALTER- Nut, their annual winter benefit. All proceeds go to their “ Hold Our Space SPOT Venue Covid-19 relief campaign”. The event will be held on December 5, 2020, at 5:30 P.M. at Lookout Lake, 3408 Elder Mt. Rd.

Decorated, pastel ballet costumes hang along ballet bars at Ballet Esprit. These costumes are waiting to be showcased in the company’s annual winter benefit called The ALTER-Nut. (Photo by Kelley Kindle)
Audio by Mckenzie Carver
Poster by Kelley Kindle

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. 

Expressive Ink

Written by Ben Ducklo

Video by Nessa Parrish

All tattoos share one commonality – Each one has a story. From a simple design to more intricate art, every piece bears significance.

Dick Cutter poses for a portrait outside of Standard Ink Tattoo. (Photo by Nessa Parrish)

For years, tattoos have been viewed as unprofessional and rebellious, but in reality, that is far from the truth—tattoos are a form of self expression. Dick Cutter, a tattoo artist at Standard Ink, feels that a very important part of his job is to help people express themselves. Cutter got his first tattoo when he was 26 years old and is still adding tattoos to this day.

Dick Cutter prepares to tattoo an original design on a client. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

He believes tattoos are becoming the norm now. “It’s unusual if you do not have tattoos now. You have seen lawyers with sleeves. I have tattooed preachers here.”

Cutter says there are two types of tattoos that the shop sees – the niche tattoos and the story-telling tattoos. Cutter described niche tattoos as tattoos that are primarily for aesthetic purposes. Story-telling tattoos tend to have a deeper meaning to the individual bearing them. Story-telling tattoos can be anything from a cherished memory, to a design that honors a lost loved one.

Tattoos are becoming more accepted in traditionally professional jobs now more than ever. For example, UTC professor of Psychology, Dr. Ruth Walker, has a tattoo in remembrance of a dear friend who passed.

Dick Cutter tattoos an original design on a client. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

“For some people, they will say it is a form of healing. Other forms of healing are not working for them, like going to a counselor or a medical professional in the wake of trauma … but reliving the pain of getting a tattoo and taking ownership over their body and reclaiming this identity is helpful. It is a form of healing to them. It is just a nontraditional form of healing.”

Dr. Walker adds that tattoos can be anecdotally helpful for people who suffer from a traumatic event. Sometimes a group of people will get similar tattoos to feel as if they are supporting each other or show support to a certain individual. For example, several NBA players got similar tattoos after Kobe Bryant’s death. 

In today’s society, this form of expression is more prevalent in workplaces now than in the past. Tattoos are much less of a taboo in today’s society and more an extension of ourselves.  

An interview between Nessa Parrish and Dick Cutter about tattoos and self-expression through ink. (Audio by Nessa Parrish)
Poster by Dewayne Bingham

The Voices of Chattanooga

Written by Haili Jackson

WUTC’s Scenic Roots has recently collaborated with Rising Rock Media to create Rising Rock Radio. Rising Rock Media, a UTC course taught by Billy Weeks, unites students with a variety of creative talents under one goal – storytelling. The radio show will  include stories from Rising Rock’s ‘Art as Protest’ and ‘Ordinary Heroes’ segments with features from Photojournalism students. We invite you to share local stories that UTC students have produced, directed, and edited. 

As Ray Bassett, editorial director and host of Scenic Roots, states “They know how to tell stories. Stories with heart; stories about life here in Chattanooga and stories off the beaten path,” he said. “These are examples of storytelling of this generation, by this generation but not only for this generation but for everybody.”

With the help of Scenic Roots, Rising Rock Radio is eager to share stories that are not only waiting to be told, but stories that need to be told.

Rising Rock will share their audio stories of documenting Chattanooga starting December 3, 2020 and running through January 2021.

Tune into Scenic Roots on WUTC 88.1 FM on Thursdays from 3-4pm and again at 8pm.

Gain access to these stories here: https://www.wutc.org/post/rising-rock-showcase-scenic-roots

Music as Protest in Chattanooga

Written by Thea Marshall

(Video By Nessa Parrish)

You’re walking through the streets of downtown Chattanooga, mask on, sweat dripping down your head from the summer’s intense humidity. You have passion in your heart and a sign in your hands, fighting for something much larger than yourself. You are protesting.

Cameron "C-Grimey" Williams smiles after speaking out on police brutality and systemic racism at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Friday, July 26, 2020. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)
Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams smiles after speaking out on police brutality and systemic racism at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Friday, July 26, 2020. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

Local rapper Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams uses his music as another way to protest. His songs Live Together and Glimmer of Hope play at protests around Chattanooga. Williams started making music about 15 years ago and specializes in writing his own lyrics. His inspiration comes from his own life experiences as well as experiences from people in the community, current events and most importantly, real life situations. Grimey says music is an easier way to convey a message rather than speaking on it. 

Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams enters the Hamilton County Courts Building to be tried for charges related to peaceful protests in Chattanooga, including disorderly conduct, blocking a highway, reckless burning, inciting to riot, and others. Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. (Photo by Dewayne Bingham)

C-Grimey speaks about what it will take for the community to influence change once these messages have been heard. “It’s going to take the community educating themselves on how they have power in this wonderful democracy.”

As far as what is next for C-Grimey, he released a Chattanooga Ted Talk on November 8th where he discusses racism in America before COVID. He also discusses how the movement has come together in Chattanooga. Grimey is working on an album as well. 

Now put your headphones in or turn your radio up to max volume. You are protesting.

An interview between Ben Ducklo and Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams. (Audio by Ben Ducklo)

Reading Together

Kelsey Butler, Founder of Homebound Books prepares bookshelf for delivery. The bookshelves designed and painted were distributed this summer. June 24, 2020. Photo by Charles Bledsoe.

Kelsey Butler, a UTC graduate and the owner of Homebound Books, specializes in bookshelves and giving back to schools in Chattanooga. Butler first decided to do a book drive for Christmas almost four years ago. After doing her student-teaching at an inner-city elementary school, she saw the need for books since the students were not able to take them home. The book drive was such a success that she decided to start doing it for many inner-city elementary schools in Chattanooga.

Kelsey began researching how to create a nonprofit and what all it entails. She decided to begin the process. The schools had many regulations regarding what kind of books students were allowed to read so Kelsey had to keep that in mind when preparing to bring the books to the schools. 

The first part of the process starts with gathering gently used books by placing plastic bins in locally-owned restaurants and coffee shops in downtown Chattanooga. The bins come with a Homebound Books sign and pamphlets of information regarding the nonprofit and its goals for the elementary schools. She leaves the bins for a few weeks and then returns to collect the donations.

The steadiness handwork from Kelsey Butler as she paints the bookshelves made for distribution to the local inner city schools. The process of painting the shelf took over hours. June 23, 2020. Photo by Charles Bledsoe.

Eventually, after gathering enough books, Butler decided to build bookshelves. Each bookshelf has three white shelves with a three-dot logo on the side. She fills each shelf full of books and delivers them to the schools. Along with the bookshelves is a teacher’s guide to Homebound Books. This guide states the goal of Homebound Books – to improve each student’s reading level. The students are free to use the bookshelf as a library where they can rent and even keep the books that they enjoy. The schools’ feedback on Homebound Books was so positive that she knew this was something she wanted to continue for the kids. She now has seven bookshelves installed at seven different inner-city elementary schools and will celebrate four years of Homebound Books this September. After receiving her Master’s in teaching in July 2021, Butler will not only run Homebound Books full time, she will also be teaching a third-grade class at Red Bank Elementary. Her work for the inner-city elementary schools in Chattanooga will continue to be appreciated as Homebound Books expands within the community.

Homebound Books Founder, Kelsey Butler reads to local inner city student. All the books on this bookshelf were donated by the local community in Chattanooga. Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (Photo by Charles Bledsoe)
Evi Mauonis enjoys time with conversating while reading a book. This book was provided by Homebound Books. June 23, 2020. Photo by Charles Bledsoe.

Exotic Paws and Claws

Dr. Shannon Dawkins examines stuck eye caps on a ball python, Snickers. The snake had been unable to shed properly due to a previous injury causing discomfort. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Rising Rock/Cat Webb.)

While most prospective pet owners will opt to have a cat or dog, others may opt for something a bit different. Some may choose a pet that is categorized as an “exotic”. This broad category of pets includes common pets such as snakes and other reptiles, rodents, tropical birds, and amphibians like axolotls and salamanders.

While there are plenty of vets in Chattanooga that will perform regular examinations on exotic animals, it may be harder to find emergency veterinary care for exotic pet owners. 

Dr. Shannon Dawkins aims to make emergencies easier for exotic pet owners with Claws and Paws Mobile Veterinary Services. She has formal training with exotics and has worked with wildlife rehabilitators and vet since a young age. Claws and Paws began as a side gig while doing relief work at overburdened animal hospitals, and slowly grew into what it is today. She sees all kinds of animals, from cats and dogs to snakes and opossums. Exotics make up a large amount of her business.

“I would say maybe 20 percent are exotics,” she said, “I tend to actually get more surgeries that are exotic because I don’t know that there are a lot of people that are doing surgeries.”

Dr. Dawkins’s setup is small, confined to a trailer she pulls behind her pickup, and therefore isn’t set up for handling most emergencies. During the week, she can handle most routine procedures, but off-hours are a different story. She has no staff on weekends and due to lack of space, she doesn’t have a setup to keep animals overnight. 

“I recently had a rabbit client, for instance, that I had to send all the way to Knoxville because it needed to be seen by a vet that could hospitalize it on the weekend,” Dawkins explained, “and I couldn’t get anyone here. I couldn’t get any of the emergency clinics to do that.”

Because Chattanooga lacks emergency exotic vets, pet owners may have nowhere to turn. Not everyone can drive two hours for veterinary care, and not every emergency can wait two hours. According to Dr. Dawkins, that is why she may sometimes see exotics outside of regular hours.

“It’s not that I want to see emergencies on the weekends,” Dawkins said, “I just know that sometimes people are really left high and dry with no other options.”

Dr. Shannon Dawkins attempts to take the weight of her patient, a ball python named Snickers. He was underweight and hadn’t fed in a while due to discomfort from an injury. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Rising Rock/Cat Webb.)
Dr. Shannon Dawkins prepares pain medication for home administration for her patient. The patient was a ball python which had sustained an injury previously. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Photo by Cat Webb.
Snickers, a ball python, awaits the end of his appointment. He visited Claws and Paws Mobile Veterinary Service for a follow-up on burns due to equipment failure and stuck shed related to that injury. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Rising Rock/Cat Webb.)

A New Normal: A Quarantine Commentary

Two to fourteen days. That is all the virus is supposed to live for, but the inability to stop our fast pace capitalist society from going keeps the COVID-19 going. Small businesses hurting, stock market crashing, unemployment rate increasing, people social-distancing, colleges closing. Not just the nation, but the world is having to learn new ways to live their day to day lives. The digital age has taken a whole new level of meaning. Every person is affected by the coronavirus in different ways. Rising Rock, a group of students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga seek to tell their stories on how this pandemic shapes their experience, and what this extraordinary moment in history looks like from their perspectives. A New Normal: A Quarantine Commentary is a creative and documentative project by the students of Rising Rock. Step foot into the perspective of college students as they share what their world now looks like in this rapidly changing society because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scroll to the bottom of this page to click on individual stories.
By clicking one of the names below, you’ll see a glimpse of how this global pandemic has now shaped each of our lives.

This week’s featured story:  A New Normal by Elian Richter

Waverly Hunter poses for a photo from her back yard in Hendersonville, Tenn. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Photo by Elian Richter)
“As the days blur together and the heavy weight of isolation builds, it’s easy to dwell on the negative emotions brought out by the current situation: boredom, loneliness, depression. These emotions are certainly overwhelming at times but there’s also a brighter side to this too. … I’ve recently realized that the pandemic has also brought at least one positive outcome during this strange time; the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world, my little sister Waverly.” To continue viewing more of this post, visit A New Normal by Elian Richter.
Produced By Rising Rock Media