East Tennessee children’s hospital has commissioned Maryville College’s own professor of art, Dr. Carl Gombert, for the addition of a mural to its already diverse collection of art. The unnamed piece is in the final stages of creation, and its expected completion has stirred anticipation within the MC community and hospital residents alike. Gombert is well known on campus as “the really chill hippie looking professor,” and is well regarded within the Knoxville art community as an artist of extreme skill and whimsical design.
While incredibly well versed in realism, Gombert prefers creating more decorative and hard-to-define pieces.
“These are much more fun,” he said.
“More is more,” said Gombert, the self-proclaimed maximalist. It’s a style so unique and unmistakable that it can only be described as “Gombertian.” In terms of inspiration, Gombert is influenced by biology, astronomy and especially music. The latter is incorporated intimately into the mural. Each element of the piece is unique unto itself but retains the same cyclic themes of whimsy present throughout the artwork as a whole.
Like a song, the designs repeat, inspire and flow into each other, combining to create an extra dimensional cosmic symphony of color, shape and texture. It’s hard not to look at the enormous work and become lost in its happy, space-like grandeur that almost forces a smile.
This reaction is intended by the artist of course, as Gombert is a strong believer in the power of humor.
“I want it to be playful,” he said. “I want it to be funny. I want it to reward the viewer in that, each time they look at it, they see some new mystery bonus prize. I want it sparkly.”
The mural itself is such a piece composed with acrylic paint, ink stamps and even 3-D elements such as stick-on rhinestones.
Evidently, this mural with its vibrant sparkle is destined to lighten the spirits of both children and the young at heart. According to Gombert, the art will cover whitewashed brick within the hospital, transforming a wall “resembling a cold Victorian-era asylum” into a space of wonder and beauty.
“I believe that inflicting a little beauty into public spaces is important because beautifying our environment is one of the greatest things humans have ever done,” he said, spoken like a true artist.
In the end, the act of beautification that this mural represents could bring hope to thousands of hopeless and unfortunate children. It could bring joy to those who are forced to find beauty within
the confines of white walls and the stench of sanitizing agent. It could inspire lust for life in the hearts of patients who are close to death. There are countless things this art could do, but it will, for at least a moment, distract a child from a circumstance of crushing and miserable potential. Perhaps that is reason enough for this beautiful creation’s appreciation.