FY22 Individual Artist Fellowship Recipients in Visual Art 2D, Mural Arts, Craft, Photography and Film

From Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media, and Design –

In recognition and acknowledgment of outstanding professional Tennessee artists who, through their work, add to the cultural vitality of the state, the Tennessee Arts Commission is pleased to award Individual Artist Fellowships ($5000 each) in Visual Art 2-D, Mural Arts, Craft, Photography, and Film to the following artists.

FY22 Individual Artist Fellowship in Visual Art 2D, Michelle O’Patick-Ollis, Unicoi

The Flying Dream, 2019, coffee painting with conte crayon, chalk pastel, and graphite, 40 x 48 inches

O’Patick-Ollis received a B.F.A. from East Tennessee State University and an M.F.A. from Arizona State University. Both degrees were in Art with a concentration in art education and printmaking. After college, she worked under Harvey Littleton (one of the founders of the studio glass movement) as a printer, learning Vitreography, the process of printing on a glass matrix. She was then hired as the manager of exhibits at Hands On Regional Museum in Johnson City. Since 2010, she has been an art educator for grades 5-6 at Indian Trail Intermediate School in Johnson City.

When not teaching, she is busy creating commissioned portraits and murals for local businesses and homes while somehow still finding time to further develop a strong, personal body of work. Through using coffee as paint and developing mixed media drawings, her current work depicts the challenges of the aging process, primarily influenced by being a caregiver for her mother suffering from Parkinson’s disease and her father, a quadriplegic with dementia. Through this portfolio, O’Patick-Ollis creates visual documentation of her parents at this stage of life, showing reduced motor skills while also sharing moments of playfulness and joy. In the coffee painting, The Flying Dream, she morphs her father’s wheelchair into an airplane with her father smiling on as the pilot.

“My drawings became a way of cataloging good memories and a way of working through some of the more difficult ones.  The creation of this body of work has been a grieving process for me, a way of dealing with what is already lost and a way of hanging onto what will inevitably disappear…By adding the element of transparency and motion (through the use of semi-translucent media), my work enables the viewer to see the subjects primarily as they once were.  An elderly woman smiles and dances.  An immobile, paralyzed body is presented in motion playing a game of checkers…I was able to depict my parents in a way where they seem to be at peace or joyful, yet upon closer inspection, the viewer is able to see a visual hint to the truth of the situation.”- O’Patick-Ollis

Her work has been shown for over 20 years in solo and group exhibitions in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, Arizona, Texas, Montana, and California. Her work is in collections at The Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC; New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, CT; Tucson Museum of Art in Tucson, AZ; University of Washington Book Arts and Rare Book Collection in Seattle, WA; Scottsdale Contemporary Museum of Art in Scottsdale, AZ; Gormley Gallery, College of Notre Dame of Maryland in Baltimore, MD; Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL; North West Art Center in Minot, ND; the B. Carroll Reece Museum, in Johnson City, TN; Ohio University Print Collection in Athens, OH; and Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, AZ among others.

She plans to use the funds to complete the series on the aging process by depicting her role as the caregiver and the effect of this exhausting and rewarding opportunity in her life.  She will also pursue visiting artist and exhibition opportunities and be able to update her website. Learn more about O’Patick-Ollis at

FY22 Individual Artist Fellowship Mural Arts Winner Eric Finley, Chattanooga

Station 6, 2019, spray paint on concrete, Tullahoma, TN

Finley, otherwise known as SEVEN, is a full-time professional street art muralist, illustrator, and graphic artist native to Chattanooga. SEVEN has a B.F.A. from the American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder and creative director for the Burnin’ Bridges Street Art Project, which hosts an annual “mural jam” in Chattanooga’s south-side community.

His graphic, bold, and colorful body of work is impressive, and the quality of the imagery makes evident his expertise with creating work on a large scale. Easily catching one’s eye at a distance, SEVEN’S thoughtful spray-painted figural representation, as well as insects and animals, come to life as they enhance exterior walls. By viewing his murals, one can tell he pays particular attention to detail and shading with skillful execution, allowing the images to have a life of their own separate from the wall where they reside. SEVEN strives to make an artistic impact with his work while also helping to develop cultural awareness and an appreciation for street art as a relevant and empowering art form today.

He received grants for his work from the Lyndhurst Foundation, Arts Build Community Cultural Connections grant, Glass House Collective Artist Residency Grant, and the Ringholz Foundation Artist Grant. SEVEN has created murals for the City of Chattanooga, Moxy Hotel in Chattanooga, L Squared Construction, Lamppost Properties, The Forge School, Passenger Flats Apartments, Chattanooga Holistic Animal Institute, and others. This summer, SEVEN will be creating a mural at the Martin Amphitheater on Riverfront Parkway in Chattanooga. Find out more about SEVEN at

FY22 IAF Craft Winner Jairo Prado, Nashville

Roots and Routes, 2018, porcelain, high-fired stoneware tile and International coin mosaic, 7 x 10 feet


A native of Colombia, South America, Prado has lived and worked for 37 years as a visual artist in Nashville, creating commissioned works while also exhibiting nationally and internationally. He has excelled in bringing access to Hispanic art and culture to middle Tennessee through his art projects involving murals, mosaics, billboards, and sculptures. Prado taught for 17 years at Watkins College of Art and facilitated arts outreach programs to underserved youth at the Frist Art Museum. Prado is best known for his public art, Migration, a colorful 12 x 30-foot mosaic at Casa Azafran. In 2014, President Obama used the mosaic diptych as the backdrop for his Town Hall meeting in Nashville.

Prado’s community projects include the HOPE Project Artist Trunks, studio classes, lectures, community mural projects, and artist-in-residence workshops. His sculptural works include wood-carved monoliths and relief constructions, mosaics, plaster and wire, abstract and representational paintings, drawings, watercolors, etchings that incorporate influences in cubism, surrealism, expressionism, and constructivism.

“This fellowship will allow me to invest in several specialized mosaic tools and materials, as well as some strategic travel as I launch into multiple significant public and private mosaic commissions for the middle Tennessee community. This award will also allow me to begin the development of a personal series of large-scale sculptural mosaic works, which has been an ongoing vision of mine. I plan to continue my craft as a public artist and mosaicist through the creation of beautifully complex and innovative installations which offer functional, aesthetic, and cultural value to Nashville and beyond. The Individual Artist Fellowship is an incredible source of encouragement for me to keep pushing the boundaries of fine art and contemporary craft as I pursue work at the intersection of these two creative worlds. I believe that this award will contribute to my ability to pursue more significant opportunities to impact the region through my creative practice.”-Prado

Prado’s work has been included in exhibitions such as a solo show at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Belmont University in Nashville, and the Biennial Best of Tennessee Craft Artists exhibition at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga. His work is in the collections of the Tennessee State Museum, Nashville’s Music City Center, Belmont University, the Tennessee Arts Commission, Tennessee State University, and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and numerous other public and private collections. Visit Prado’s website to see more of his mosaic and sculptural works

FY22 IAF Photography Winner Tema Stauffer, Johnson City

William Faulkner’s Kitchen Curtains, Rowan Oak, Oxford, MS, 2018, archival pigment print, 30 x 36 inches

Assistant Professor of Photography at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Stauffer, has been teaching photography for over 15 years. She received an M.F.A. in Photography from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a B.F.A. from Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH. Before moving to Johnson City in 2017, she worked as Assistant Professor of Photography at Concordia University in Montreal, QC; and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Photography at The College of Staten Island in N.Y., and Ramapo College of New Jersey.

For the past three years, Stauffer has been working on Southern Fiction, an ongoing photographic journey that highlights buildings and landscapes related to historic southern writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, and Harper Lee. She will use the Individual Artist Fellowship Award funds toward the completion, exhibition, and publication of Southern Fiction.

“Southern Fiction explores the history of the American South using its literary tradition as a road map, focusing on environments which have shaped the imaginations of 20th-century Southern writers during their formative years or throughout the course of their lives and careers. The images portray domestic settings, vernacular architecture, and rural landscapes that visually resonate with the history, culture, and atmosphere of the Deep South.”-Stauffer

She has been awarded numerous grants and prizes, and her photographs have been exhibited at the Reece Museum at ETSU in Johnson City, TN; Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House in Hudson, NY; School of the International Center of Photography in New York, NY; Tracey Morgan Gallery in Asheville, NC; Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC; Sasha Wolf Gallery in New York, NY; Tyler School of Art, Elkins Hall Gallery in Philadelphia, PA; the Rochester Art Center in Rochester, MN; Gallery 400, the University of Illinois in Chicago, IL; editon O.N.E. Gallery in Santa Fe, NM; Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, MA; The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO; and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC; among others. Her work has also been viewed internationally in Barcelona, Spain; Cortona, Italy; Montreal, QC; London, UK, and LiShui, China.

Her work has been published in print and online extensively, including her monograph published in 2018, Upstate: Photographs by Tema Stauffer (Daylight Books), featuring Stauffer’s photographs of Hudson, NY. Most recently, she was interviewed in a podcast titled, Photographer, Professor, + Curator, Tema Stauffer. Learn more about her work at

FY22 IAF Film Winner FILM Madeleine Hicks, Nashville

Clip from the short film, Legs directed by Madeleine Hicks

Nashville native, Hicks, earned a bachelor’s degree in Theater Education in 2015. Since then, she has worked in professional theatre and writing, directing, producing, and acting in films. Her films often use performance art and puppetry (usually handmade by Hicks) to enhance the telling of the story.

“Sincerity in storytelling is fundamentally important to me, but I don’t necessarily equate sincerity with realism. I enjoy using elements of surrealism, absurdism, and dark comedy to express ideas, but the stories themselves always center around themes of vulnerability, resiliency, and femininity. I love experimenting with different mediums, but it’s always about choosing the most interesting way to explore a story or idea. Finding the time and discipline comes naturally with the curiosity and excitement of making things.” – Hicks

Hicks has received awards for her film shorts, including the Third Eye Film Festival: Female Eye award for Sour Apples, written and directed by Hicks; Chattanooga Film Festival, 2016 T.N. Filmmaker’s Award for Snow Globes, written and directed by Hicks; and the Nashville Scene: Critic’s Pick. Her work has also been screened at the Nashville Film Festival, where Tennessee filmmakers, screenwriters, and music makers are honored.

Plans are already in the works for Hicks’ first feature film, Sunshine Girls. She has been developing the screenplay for two years and is getting ready to go into production this fall. Sunshine Girls be shot and produced in the Middle TN area with a female-led team. Funds received from this award will go towards the production. Find out more about Hicks at