East Tennessee artist’s murals inspire young minds

Positively Tennessee

A Knoxville artist has been transforming walls, rooms and buildings with her one-of-a-kind designs for years. Campbell County school leaders gathered at Valley View Elementary School this week to say thank you to Gale Hinton for her inspiring work. 

The school cafeteria at the school used to be like so many others around the country – bland and beige, but functional. It was the same story in the gym. Now, lunchtime for students is like having a picnic outside every day, surrounded by peaceful familiar scenes depicting the beauty and culture of Campbell County, the place they call home.

There are also several messages on the wall designed to inspire young minds every day: “Be the reason someone smiles today, “The best form of communication is kindness,” and “The expert at anything was once the beginner.”

There’s also a new hand-painted sign heralding Valley View’s Mighty Bobcats in the gym.

Campbell County school board member Jeffrey Miller came up with the idea to make schools more welcoming for students. So, after a bidding process, Gale Hinton of Knoxville was chosen to make her magic happen.

“She’s phenomenal and her work shows it,” said Miller.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Director of Schools Jennifer Fields said. “It’s a true representation of this area.”

Hinton took us through her work, starting with the school mascot sign, close to the ceiling of the gym.

“I measured every one of those-taped them off and painted them,” Hinton said.

She did the work high in the air on a scissor lift or ladder, by herself, at the age of 76.

“Do something you truly, truly love to do, that’s it. That’s it. That’s what keeps you alive,” Hinton said.

She’s behind castles, flowers, tree houses, even Tom Brady to bring walls in homes and buildings to life. Hinton has also supported non-profits in our area by designing logos for Mission of Hope and the Dogwood Arts Festival.

She did the artwork for McDonald’s plates a few years ago. They were sold nationwide.

It’s projects like the one at Valley View that touch a special part of Gale Hinton’s heart.

“Every time I paint, I just pray that this will be the best thing I’ve ever done. And the next thing I do, the best thing you’ve ever done. If you ever become truly satisfied with everything you do, you’re not going to get any better,” she says.

Her work will be appreciated by students and teachers at Valley View for years to come.

To see more of Gale Hinton’s work you can visit her website or her Facebook page.

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