This is a new thing we want to try on our blog network. We receive several publications from regional magazines every season and, more now than ever, they contain some articles and info that we feel may be interesting and useful towards bringing attention to the arts and culture of the Smoky Mountains. In this article, we found an article and some artwork on downtown murals that have been adding new life to Springfield, Oak Ridge and Athens.

From Tennessee Home & Farm, Spring 2024, provided by Tennessee Farm Bureau.

“Public art isn’t just for big cities anymore. Across Tennessee, colorful murals have been beautifying small towns and rural communities in recent years. But the impact of this growing trend extends far before aesthetics. Murals also help revitalize communities by fostering a sense of local price, preserving town history and culture, and attracting visitors eager to snap photos in front of these eye-catching works. Take a look at a few of the many places you’ll find murals enhancing the walls of small-town Tennessee.

A city of secrets, Oak Ridge’s unique history paved the way for many talented individuals throughout the years. Now, the city boasts several stunning murals featuring its history and beauty while highlighting local artistic talent.

Sponsored by Explore Oak Ridge, a mural on the Oak Ridge Rowing Association building showcasing the city’s outdoor activities brightens the walking trails along the Clinch River, where rowing events and water activities are always in season. Oak Ridge resident and artist Megan Lingerfelt painted this mural.

Lingerfelt also painted the mural at 303 Broadway Ave., commissioned by ORNL Federal Credit Union, featuring the city’s historic science roots based on images taken by Ed Wescott, the official photographer of the Manhattan Project and the Secret City during World War II.

Alongside this mural, many others featuring bright artwork grace the buildings at ORNL FCU headquarters. These murals are repainted every two years by contributing elementary, middle and high school students. Several face schools and other community areas, making it easy for the residents and visitors and visitors to enjoy.

Walls For Women has been brinding vibrant art to rural Tennessee communities sice 2020. The public art project, which began as a celebration of of 100 years of women’s sufferage and Tennessee’s historic role in ratifying the 19th amendment, continues its mission to create original murals with a all-female team of artists.

“Our goal is to bring more access to art to rural areas,” says Kristin Luna, co-founder and president Do More Art (DMA), the nonprofit behind Walls for Women. “What we love about public art is that it’s free and anyone can enjoy it.”

In Sweetwater, “Hurrah” by Jenny Ustick and “This Girl Can” by Kim Radford both depict the colors and symbols of the suffrage movement. “Hurrah!” features the portrait and handwriting of Febb Burn, mother of Rep. Harry Burn from nearby Niota, who wrote the historic letter encouraging her son to cast the tie-breaking vote for suffrage in 1920.

Other Walls for Women murals include another of Radford’s “This Girl Can” in Nolensville; “Punch Bug” in Centerville by Whitney Herrington; “Hebe” in McMinneville, also by Ustick; and many more. To discover them all, visit

In addition to suffrage-inspired murals, DMA has also worked with artists on a number of commissioned murals in communities throughout Middle and East Tennessee.

The mural movement extends all over the state. Slow down in squares and you’re likely to find a mural or two celebrating local businesses and regional history. In Springfield, Leadership Robertson County commissione Eric “Mobe” Bass to paint a downtown mural that encompasses the city’s tobacco heritage. Other examples include one in Halls highlighting the town’s railroad history and cotton industry; Leah’s Boorse’s tribute to those who serve on the side of the Assembly Hall in Smyrna; and Selmer’s Rockabilly Highway Mural, which was painted by artist Brian Tull.

You can’t miss the “Everywhere You Look, UT” mural in Sharon decorating a Robinson & Belew Inc. grain bin at 240 Park West Ave. Artist Troy Freeman was commissioned to take on the large painting, which is the first of the series promoting the University of Tennessee across the state.

And this just scratches the surface of the murals helping to rejuvenate small towns throughout Tennessee.”


Article originally written by Rachel Graf, Hannah Lewis and Carisa Ownby. Pictures in this blog come from the Tennessee Home & Farm Spring 2024 issue.