Nashville Children’s Theatre Dragon Project

I have a new piece of epic proportions i am about to build. Its gonna be a 22′ dragon poised in a tree with a companion child who is holding a large crystal. This is for the Nashville Children’s Theater. This organization has been around since the thirties and will be around much longer as they received a large grant to revamp their theatre. Part of this is the centerpiece sculpture to welcome visitors. This is my largest commission to date and I am so excited about the organization I am creating this for. They are about youth and creativity, which is part of my mission with Burning Art. I am going to blow their socks off.

Please check back with news and progress pictures!

New News

 Knoxvoice- Junk Masters

Thursday, 12 July 2007

By Denise Sanabria

Creating sculpture from found objects is an art that goes far back into pre-history, perhaps the earliest form of sculpture. It is a tradition that has never been lost in folk art throughout all parts of the world but was abandoned as a serious art form until being revived by modernists in the early 20th century. It is a seemingly simplistic genre in which to work, but considerable intelligence and skill is required to take it to a higher level.

Lee Jines has lived for years in an old restaurant building in Claiborne County. Formally a Screen Actor’s Guild member who worked in the film industry in New York, Jines has redirected his creative urges to producing sculpture. His obsessive need to create art from found objects (such as scrap metal, broken bric-a-brac and organic materials), mixed with traditional media, has been problematic at times. He feels his creativity is viewed by many as either a sickness or a gift, though he considers it the latter. Jines says the people who consider it a sickness are unable to understand why he needs to live surrounded by what they consider piles of junk. Jines describes how he often found discarded objects along the side of the road, calling out to him as he drove by them, informing him that they needed to be used. He would carefully evaluate them for shape, texture, coloration and life before he would toss them into the back seat and bring them home.

 “Warrior Goddess” or “Eurelea” sculpted by Zophia Kneiss

Half a mile down the road from Jines’s restaurant residence is Burning Art, the studio belonging to Zophia Kneiss. Located in an old auto repair garage, her sculpture projects share space with the horseshoes she crafts in her other life as a professional farrier. Kneiss learned welding early on from her dad, and after studying metal art at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., she joined the Peace Corps, later relocating to Atlanta for three years. She creates art that blends serious social themes with playful inventiveness.


Sculptures of creatures both large and small grow from nuts, bolts, old tools and scrap metal that she finds in junkyards and abandoned factories. Scrap sheet metal is cut out with a plasma cutter to produce geometric and decoratively curved pieces. Sometimes, oddly shaped metal directs the development of the finished work; bent and curved tools become flowers, suggesting the mechanics of nature. The rust that covers some of the materials injects a sense of history and time into many of her mythological creations. “Female Warrior,” a piece watching over the highway in front of the studio, is graced with such a patina.


On the other end of the spectrum, Kneiss created a shiny, 10-foot-tall by 16-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex out of hot dipped galvanized steel as a commission for Bristol Galvanizing of Bristol, Va. Her latest commission is from the Nashville Children’s Theater. The outdoor sculpture will be a 22-foot standing dragon, its tail wrapped around a structural support pole, one outstretched hand holding a child cupping a crystal ball. At first glance it could appear menacing, until you realize that the child is the dragon’s friend.


Both artists’ continue to be busy, and show no signs of stopping anytime soon. Their work can be found periodically in some of the galleries that participate in First Friday openings in downtown Knoxville, and you are more than welcome to stop by Kneiss’ studio in New Tazewell.

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