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Volume 25, Number 3 — March 2018

Marvin Tadlock a part of VI for 42 years

 Marvin Tadlock with
Marvin Tadlock with "A Bomb Sculpture."
Additional photos below »

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | December 27, 2017

Many people felt the real end of Virginia Intermont didn't come until Marvin Tadlock left his studio in December 2016. While the school closed in 2014, Tadlock continued to rent and work in his studio until the college went on the auction block.

Tadlock was a part of the VI community for 42 years.

"I came to Bristol from Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1972. I was hired having just graduated with my MFA in sculpture from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I fell in love with Virginia Intermont College the first time I laid eyes on its beautiful campus — not to mention the admiration I felt for Tedd Blevins, then head of the art department, Dr. Norman Nunn, academic dean and Dr. Floyd Turner, president of VIC," he says.

He taught 2-D and 3-D design, ceramics I-IV, sculpture I-IV, and art in elementary schools and art in secondary schools at VI. He taught watercolor classes at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, for two weeks during the summer.

"That was my career and a wonderful one at that," he says. In addition to teaching, Tadlock and other art faculty members were responsible for maintaining the artwork created and shown in local and national competitions and exhibitions.

"VI was a college that was small enough that both teaching and learning could take place. Art students learned to critique the work of others, as well as having their own work critiqued. As much, or more of our time was allotted to helping the art students learn to "see,' as opposed to how to draw, sculpt or paint," Tadlock says.

Tadlock taught hundreds of students. Some of them are Steven Cregger, who teaches art at High Point Elementary School, who won the $25,000 McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014; Donnie Quales who teaches at Tennessee High School, and Nina Rizzo who taught at Chilhowie High School.

Art students who stand out in his memory include potters Michael Robison, Will Dickert and "hundreds more," he says. "Out of the hundreds who took studio classes in sculpture at VIC, two students stand out. Godfrey Moogy from Uganda did sculpture projects in clay, rubber and steel that wonderfully reflected his life in East Africa. Taka Tomasa, from Hiroshima, Japan, produced intriguing sculptures in ceramics as well as some grand pieces in welded steel. While great friends, he and I realized one day while he was working on his "Bombed City" sculpture that my father and his grandfather had fought against each other in World War II," Tadlock says.

Sculpting is Tadlock's passion. "I have always preferred working in three-dimensional space, sculpture, as opposed to the flat or two-dimensional space associated with painting and drawing.

"My sculptural artwork has always leaned toward the abstract, while at the same time being very design conscious, i.e. shape, line, form, balance, etc. It also has evolved quite a bit to include social commentary and storytelling.

"A good example would be my work, "Altered.' It is a portrayal of an automatic pistol rendered in steel at seven-feet tall — with a giant kink in the barrel. The sculpture is pointed towards the ground — rather than out into the world. This sculpture was built in response to one of the many public shootings of school children in America.

"Another sculpture is "Aquarium,' a 12+ foot tall piece that has an abstract tilted aquarium at mid height. The fish inside is alive and still has enough water for life. The same sized fish at the base of the sculpture is dead and leaning against the column. A puddle of water is depicted on the base. When the viewer looks up at the top of the piece they see a same sized fish, but one that has turned to shiny stainless steel, sprouted a 38" set of wings, and is in the process of flying off. This abstract piece is reminiscent of the belief in the afterlife that many of us have," he says. "Aquarium" was created after VI closed.

These two sculptures are showing in national competitions. "Aquarium" is in Founder's Park, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the second of a two-year exhibition. "Altered," is on exhibit in Krutch Park in Knoxville, Tennessee. He also has small sculptures and 3-D crafts at A Work of Art Gallery, Bristol, Tennessee. His sculptures are in private collections throughout the Southeast United States.

Tadlock is working on building a new studio on some property on Lee Highway. Some of his work is in "Marvinland," which is on property Jay Phyfer owns on Lee Street in Bristol, Virginia. "Marvin will take one to a show and then bring another one to replace it," Phyfer says.

He received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina and his Ed.D. from the University of Georgia.

For more about Tadlock, visit

Megan Pinch works in a new medium: wood

Topics: Art, Photography

"Altered" by Marvin Tadlock was created in response to shootings of school children. It is on exhibit in Krutch Park, Knoxville, Tennessee.=

Above and below are works by Marvin Tadlock.