Pellissippi State presents ‘Genius Loci’ exhibit, featuring local artist Katie Ries

Pellissippi State Community College hosts “Genius Loci,” a multimedia exhibit and series of arts events by local artist Katie Ries, at the Hardin Valley Campus Oct. 8-Nov. 2. Ries’ interdisciplinary work incorporates drawing, costuming and social events designed to raise questions about how people access and engage with the land around them.

Previous area exhibits by Ries include a collaboratively stocked vending machine selling helpful kits instead of junk food; a series of costumes for gallery guests to wear; seedlings to be taken home, planted, and raised by art patrons; and small chores to be completed in exchange for objects in an art gallery. Ries’ 2008 costume show garnered a Metro Pulse comparison to Japanese artist Atsuko Tanaka’s 1956 “Electric Dress,” a garment crafted from light bulbs and electrical cords.

Area residents may recognize Ries’ name, even if they’ve never attended one of her exhibits. The artist was a co-founder of The Birdhouse, a collective arts space in Knoxville’s Fourth and Gill neighborhood. Since 2006, The Birdhouse has fostered and promoted emerging artists and musicians by renting studio spaces and by hosting exhibits, concerts, and special events.

Ries is also well-known for the Urban Land Scouts, a group she began in 2010 in order to teach and promote land stewardship.

The artist currently serves as the marketing and outreach director for Three Rivers Market food cooperative in North Knoxville. Ries has a Bachelor of Arts in studio art from Colorado College and a Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in printmaking from the University of Tennessee.

Ries says the show’s title, “Genius Loci,” refers to the ancient Roman belief in a resident spirit—a genius loci—who looked after and dwelt in a specific location. It also refers to her public and private engagements with that genius loci and ideas of environmental sustainability.

“Publicly, I host and promote the Urban Land Scouts, a group that teaches land stewardship and eco-literacy in the city. Privately, I seek to strike a balance between fantastic and realistic ideas of self-sufficiency, sustainability, and stewardship,” she said.

Four special events are planned for Ries’ “Genius Loci” exhibit:

  • Opening reception—Oct. 8, 3-5 p.m.
  • Shoemaking talk and demonstration with guest Daniel Scott, cordwainer (maker of fine leather shoes)—Oct. 9, 3-5 p.m.
  • Introduction to urban land scouting, which includes a short outdoor walk and a pamphlet-style bookbinding activity—Oct. 22, 3-5 p.m.
    Limited to 15 participants, with registration required. Bring a drawing implement, and dress for the weather. Children are welcome, but they may require assistance in binding books. Please contact Jennifer Brickey at (865) 694-6634 or to register.
  • Artist talk by Katie Ries—Oct. 29, 3-5 p.m.

“Genius Loci” is one of the events that make up Pellissippi State’s new arts series, “The Arts at Pellissippi State.” The series brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

Regular exhibit hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The showing and associated special events take place in the gallery of the Bagwell Center for Media and Art on the Hardin Valley Campus. The exhibit and events are free and open to the public.

For additional information about the exhibit or “The Arts at Pellissippi State,” call (865) 694-6400 or visit To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or