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Alum’s love for C-N helps others soar in vibrant fashion

Alumni | March 04, 2022

Todd Turpin '12, of Jefferson City, stands in front of an art installation he commissioned and gifted to Carson-Newman.

The arrival of an art installation on Carson-Newman University’s campus last fall generated instant fanfare, and its popularity continues to grow.

The visual experience was made possible by 2012 alumnus Todd Turpin, who commissioned the artwork and donated it to his alma mater. It was Knoxville artist Curtis Glover who helped Turpin’s idea take flight.

Created with photos and social media in mind, the artwork measures 8x16 feet and features realistic, lone eagle’s wings spread wide on an orange and blue backdrop. The empty area between the wings is reserved to flank students, campus visitors and Eagles fans – all encouraged to strike a pose. The effect is stunning and continues to populate Instagram feeds.

“The artwork started with my concept of an ethereal background,” said Turpin, a former art major. “I wanted the background to be somewhat of a vague nebulous space affected by light, symbolizing God's light in our lives. Then Curtis did an amazing job of drawing the wings, taking the idea to a level that was vibrant and full of color and life while maintaining a realistic look.”

The wings, located in the heart of campus behind Maples Café, checks a box Turpin had for some time. “As a student at Carson-Newman, I often thought that having more art installations on campus would really help to add unique visual impressions on current and visiting students alike,” said Turpin, who later served in the University’s Marketing & Communications office for nearly a decade. “As an employee, I loved the task of helping generate a buzz to help attract students to our campus.”

That love is evident each time students and friends gather in front of the brushed feathers.

“It has really become the most popular selfie spot on campus for our incoming and prospective students,” said Clay Wilkerson, C-N’s director of Admissions. It has been fun to watch our future eagles take flight.”

Turpin says it’s special to give back to the place that gave him so much, and he is quick to encourage others to look for opportunities to do the same.

“Giving is the ultimate show of support to the institution and its mission,” he said. “I feel like the credentials listed on my diploma are strengthened as a direct result of other alumni offering their time, energy, resources and talents. Some of my fellow alums volunteer to help at homecoming, some share consultative advice, some donate artifacts, some build galleries, and some donate to the Eagle Anglers fishing team. All of these are examples of "giving back," and they all help the university further its mission.”

It's this mission that Turpin says impacted his time as a student – and beyond.

“I attended Carson-Newman a little later in life. I was 26 years old. I had been to at least four other universities, some large, some small, some Christian, some not. I came to C-N shortly after a deployment to Iraq with the USAF,” he explained. “To say I was in a rough place is an understatement, but the instant family at C-N helped me learn how to appreciate God's plan for my life, and in turn, opened up doors for me I never thought possible.

“Professors who are lifelong friends, administrators who continue to be mentors, and colleagues who are like family–the impact of this place is unending.”

Click here to learn about giving opportunities to Carson-Newman.