The Sketchbook Project, a compilation of art from 135 countries and six continents, visited the Knoxville Museum of Art Sunday.
This collection, based out of Brooklyn, N.Y., features over 20,000 books, 4,000 of which were brought to Knoxville for the exhibition. After visiting, The Sketchbook Project added books created by local Knoxville artists to their collection.
The project was housed in a traveling trailer outside the museum. Visitors began by creating their own library card and using a digital catalog to find sketchbooks of interest. Categories available included profession, interest, location, format, theme, material and mood.
Visitors then refined their search into subcategories, and were instantly given sketchbooks based on this search.
Steven Peterman, founder of The Sketchbook Project, said that this informal gallery space creates a personal art viewing experience.
"It's definitely more personal than a gallery," Peterman said. "You're not restricted in that you can touch the art. You get to really connect with the artist in a very unique way."
Abby and Greg Baxter, from Clinton, Tenn., heard about The Sketchbook Project from friends, Alan and Linda Patton. The Baxters were given sketchbooks from Canada and Colorado after searching "creatures".
The Pattons, who traveled from Atlanta to explore the selection of sketchbooks, searched "random" and were given books from Oregon and the United Kingdom. The couple said their favorite thing about The Sketchbook Project is its vastness.
Linda Patton has seen sketchbooks full of ink, pencil, drawings, collages and photos, giving each sketchbook a personality of its own.
"There are totally different personalities in everything," Alan Patton said. "You never know what you're going to get when you get a book. It could be very professionally done and sketched, or some of them are almost childlike drawings."
Peterman said that this experience is particularly good for learning and practicing artists.
"It's a great resource for students who are creating artwork right now," Peterman said. "In arts we learn about artists who are long gone and created art decades ago. These are people who are doing art right now."
Sixteen-year-old Brittany Dunaway viewed sketchbooks from Georgia and California and said she prefers this traveling library to traditional art galleries.
"It's fantastic," said Dunaway, an art student at L&N STEM Academy. "It's very inspirational to see someone else's art. It's way better to see normal people like me actually enter their projects into this."
Knoxville books joined the already large collection. Rosalind Martin, curator of education at the Knoxville Museum of Art, hoped to give The Sketchbook Project a good piece of Knoxville through art.
"This is visual arts," Martin said, before the traveling library arrived. "This is everyday common people who are turning in sketchbooks that will become a part of the Brooklyn Art Library and I hope a lot of people will drop off a book that will represent Knoxville well."
Peterman said his goal in founding The Sketchbook Project was, and still is, to inspire.
"We're a big believer of community art in a sense that a community of artists can work together to create one thing which is The Sketchbook Project," Peterman said. "There are thousands of people that are working for the same goal of a traveling expedition of art.
"No matter where we are, our main goal is to create new art and be inspired by other people's work."