Local photographer Jon Buffington will present a collection of photos that have been a decade in the making this month at the Tullahoma Art Center.
The Manchester resident is the featured artist for the month and will showcase photographs he has taken over the last 10 years of the South Cumberland State Park system.
The exhibit will open today (Sunday) from 2-5 p.m. at the center, located at 401 S. Jackson St. Buffington will be on hand to meet patrons and discuss his works.
A personal pursuit of nature
Buffington was first introduced to South Cumberland State Park while visiting his grandparents. Over his years of coming to visit, he said he fell in love with the area.
“I’m from Birmingham, Alabama originally,” he said. “However, my grandparents had a vacation house up in the Monteagle Sunday School Assembly. I spent my summers up on the mountain and it was always the excursions to Fiery Gizzard and caves and waterfalls that I enjoyed. When I moved to Tennessee in 2003, I lived in Monteagle before I moved to Manchester in 2008.”
His trips to visit the natural area led him to become an avid outdoorsman, capturing the natural surroundings around him with his camera.
“I’m an avid outdoorsmen and as a personal pursuit I’ve been on an intensive study of the South Cumberland State Park system,” he said. “We know of Fiery Gizzard, but there is also Carter Cave, the Natural Bridge and Grundy Lake. This was a study of both of the grand themes that everyone is aware of like the waterfalls and the overlook, but also a more intimate study of what it feels like to be out in the back country and all over those parts. It’s a personal project that I felt needed to be on display. I’m also a big advocate for that park system. It’s right in our backyard, so to speak, and it’s gets little attention compared to the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg. We don’t realize what we have right here around us and what is a wonderful park system.”
Choosing the images
Buffington said he will be showcasing 50 photographs that he has taken of the natural area. He said choosing just 50 images from the collection that he has amassed over the past 10 years was, at times, excruciating.
“It was a hard process,” he said. “I had narrowed down images to around 250. I then realized I had to go back and look at images I had taken last spring of some of the park’s newer areas such as Denny Cove and Denny Falls. It was excruciatingly painful at times to pare down images.”
Buffington added that he wanted to show images that would best capture the beauty of the area.
“I wanted to get a good representation of diversity that includes scenes, settings, seasons and also showcase diversity in mediums as well,” he said. “While we live in a digital age, I have shot some of the images more traditionally using film emulsions which I develop myself. There are black and white images as well.”
A lifelong artist
While his interest and talent in photography came later in life, Buffington said he comes from a long line of artists and has enjoyed discovering and taking part in various forms of art throughout his life.
“I’ve always been involved in the arts,” he said. “My grandmother was a painter. My first foray into the arts was the culinary arts. I was a chef for 15 years. I then went in a different direction where I worked as a recording engineer in Nashville. Photography has always been a love of mine. It’s always seemed to come to me naturally.”
Buffington said he’s looking forward to meeting and talking with other lovers of both nature and art.
“I’m looking forward most to interacting with those who appreciate the arts, along with those who have an appreciation for wildlife and the rich cultural area we have in this part of the state,” he said.
Buffington’s images will be available for purchase with special orders also available for order.
The exhibit is free to members and $5 to non-members. The center is located at 401 S. Jackson St. in Tullahoma. For more information, call 455-1234.
Kali Bradford may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.