MC art professor creates mural using rubber stamps

MC art professor creates mural using rubber stamps

Nov. 1, 2013
Contact: Chelsea Morgan ‘13, Communications Assistant

What do garden gnomes, monarch butterflies, pretzels and guitars have in common?

They are just a few of many images being stamped onto the walls of the Clayton Center for the Arts’ (CCA) art and recital hall building.

Dr. Carl Gombert, Maryville College professor of art, began working on the stamp mural in September, covering roughly half of the second floor hallway wall using more than 20 different rubber stamps. The installation is composed solely of one- to three-inch black ink images stamped onto the white walls.

The mural, not yet titled, features geometric designs of varying stamp patterns and will eventually cover the entire wall. According to Gombert, the piece is relatively planned out but is also flexible enough for variation.

“I’ve got an idea,” Gombert said. “There is some planning. There are some sketches, but there is also a fair amount of improvisation in this process.”

The stamps being chosen for the project have not been selected with a single, central theme in mind; rather, the images are intended to resonate with different individuals, depending on their association and relationship to the object or image represented by the stamp, explained Gombert.

“I’m choosing stamps that connect with people,” Gombert said. “But what scuba divers and the head of Shirley Temple have to do with one another is anyone’s guess.”

Gombert said he is not sure how long it will take to complete the mural, but after it’s completed, the mural will be preserved using an acrylic varnish.

Gombert hopes the installation will serve as an opportunity for similar projects in the future.

“This is a proposal drawing,” Gombert said. “I would really like to be able to do this type of site-specific installation work at other places throughout the country, and I figured I could either send a proposal saying, ‘Trust me. What could go wrong?’ or I could send this example.”

Gombert’s rubber stamped art has been selected for juried exhibitions. In December 2012, Gombert’s “Gnomandala XIV (Flight),” a 30”x30” rubber stamped monotype, was selected for “Arts in the Airport: 75 Years of Making Memories in Aviation,” a juried exhibition at McGhee Tyson Airport. Also in 2012, two of his rubber stamped monotypes were selected for inclusion in “White, Black & Shades of Grey,” a national juried exhibition sponsored by the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset, Mass.

Gombert encourages those interested to visit often to observe the mural’s progress. Smaller versions of his work are also available for sale at

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.