Lendon Noe is a Jackson native and local artist who has served as Head of the School of Arts and Communications at the University of Memphis Lambuth and as the Director of the Jackson Arts Council, while producing her personal work primarily in oil and graphite drawing media. Now focusing on installation and commission work centered on natural history, Noe’s experience is as substantive as it is eclectic.
In light of tomorrow's A.M. Creative gathering at theCO—a monthly group meet-up organized for (and by) makers, dreamers, and those who appreciate stories of inspiration to share about what they are creating and to encourage others to come alongside them—we recall September’s event with the illustrious Lendon Noe and her anecdotes on a couple of exciting future projects, the ever-important role of artists’ civic responsibilities, and more.
It seems natural for a creator of any sort to want to share about their creation and what it means to them. Yet Noe, someone who undoubtedly has filled her share of galleries (let alone canvases) with her own musings, was preoccupied with a larger, more systemic conversation last month when speaking to group of fellow creatives and patrons alike.
“What is the role of the artist in society today?” Before allowing for much room for discussion, Noe went onto to propose a thoughtfully articulated response to her own question. “It is to act with awareness in order to produce and inspire growth both in ourselves in our personal relationships and in our wider society.” She continued to affirm artists in their individual pursuits and public contributions, while also emphasizing the need for collaboration with other do-gooders. “It is artists who work with other professionals towards the development of contemporary society. The artist is a professional who brings creative thought to the table—who has the courage to imagine in non-conformist ways and who actually brings innovation to production.”
When speaking about her personal work, Noe was quick in recognizing her natural surroundings as a significant influence on how she thinks about artistic expression. This was immediately evident in hearing her explain to everyone the details behind an upcoming installation of hers at the Tennessee Arts Commission Gallery in Nashville, entitled Inspired by The Forest Unseen, premiering next month. Paralleling with David Haskell’s (Sewanee University) recent publication, Noe noted that she would be looking to examine the interrelationship among all that’s found in nature through her pieces, in hopes of offering viewers a more intimate experience with the natural world—one that is similar to her own.
Although Noe could have continued to entertain with stories from past creations and plans for future ones, she clearly had an impetus for speaking to the group that extended well beyond personal gleanings. The artist ended by returning to her educational tendencies by asking listeners about their individual passions and creative projects, regardless of what form they were taking, and encouraging them to remain curious of what other possibilities lie ahead.