C. Kermit Ewing


Charles Kermit “Buck” Ewing came to the university in 1947 to head the art program in the newly organized Department of Fine Arts, which was headed by Professor David Van Vactor. Born in Bentleyville, Pennsylvania, Ewing did not have enough money to purchase supplies when he began painting in 1928, so he got a football scholarship to Carnegie Tech and played halfback for four years while obtaining his bachelor’s degree.

He taught for six years in Pennsylvania and New York schools and then returned to Carnegie Mellon to obtain the master’s degree. He received a prestigious Louis C. Tiffany Fellowship in 1932 to study art at the Oyster Bay, Long Island, art colony, which flourished in the 1930s. He studied fresco under Jean Charlot at the University of Iowa and art history under a Carnegie scholarship. For six years he taught art at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon, where he also coached football. Among his art students at Carnegie Mellon were Philip Pearlstein and Andy Warhol.

During his 29 years as head of UT’s art program, the faculty grew from one (himself) to 25, and the curriculum expanded to provide graduate and undergraduate opportunities in all the basic fine arts disciplines and in commercial art. His missionary zeal played a major role in the institution’s seeking funding in 1974 for an art facility, which would also house the School of Architecture.

Ewing’s painting career produced 29 one-man shows and 25 major awards in regional competitions. In addition to being remembered for his prolific painting, he began the annual art auction in 1950 and the annual Art Department Christmas sale in 1952 as part of his mission to instill appreciation and love for art in the community.

During his career he was a leader in starting such groups as the Seven in New Rochelle, New York; the art society in Indiana, Pennsylvania; the Gilpin County Art Center in Central City, Colorado; the Knoxville Watercolor Society; the Tennessee College Arts Council; and the Knoxville Arts Council. He served as president of the Southeastern College Art Association. Following his death in September 1976 in Bali, Indonesia, an endowment fund that quickly grew to more than $50,000, was established in his memory to provide aid to art students. The Ewing Gallery in the Art and Architecture Building is named for him.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title C. Kermit Ewing
  • Coverage 1910–1976
  • Author
  • Keywords C. Kermit Ewing
  • Website Name Volopedia
  • Publisher University of Tennessee Libraries
  • URL
  • Access Date April 21, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 7, 2018