Wetumpka Festival

Wildlife Wonders: Auburn Alum Takes Best of Show at Wetumpka Festival

Last Updated: 9 January 2024By Tags: ,

An Auburn University alum and Atlanta-based artist recently made waves at an art competition and festival in Wetumpka. Jared Knox clinched the Best of Show title at the inaugural Alabama Wildlife Fine Arts Competition, impressing judges with his 36-by-24-inch acrylic painting on canvas titled “Bobcat and Bobwhite.” Knox, a 2021 Auburn graduate, drew inspiration from his hunting background for this remarkable piece.

Participating in the Alabama Wildlife Fine Arts Competition, held during the second annual Wetumpka Wildlife Arts Festival in November, Knox expressed his excitement about being part of an event alongside artists he admired, such as Dirk Walker and Sue Key. Reflecting on the experience, he mentioned, “I’ve been a fan of theirs forever. To be a part of it and win and talk with them, it was really great.”

Knox’s journey into the world of art took an unexpected turn during his final semester at Auburn. Although he initially studied mechanical engineering, art remained a hobby. However, an invitation to showcase his work at an Atlanta gallery changed everything. Encouragement from the gallery’s owner inspired Knox to establish his own studio after graduation, transitioning art from a side interest to a full-time pursuit.

The roots of Knox’s connection to wildlife and the outdoors run deep, originating from his early experiences. Growing up in Marietta, Georgia, he vividly remembers a family hunting trip to Alabama’s Black Belt during his teenage years, an event that fueled his passion for hunting and appreciation for wildlife. These memories, particularly encounters with bobcats during hunting trips in North Georgia, served as the foundation for his winning painting, “Bobcat and Bobwhite.”

Encouraged to enter the Wetumpka competition by Cindy Harris, who discovered Knox’s work in a North Carolina gallery, Knox expressed gratitude for the opportunity. Cindy Harris is the wife of Thomas Harris, founder of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association (ALBBAA), an organization that helped promote the festival.

The Wetumpka Wildlife Arts Festival, a collaborative effort involving the Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery (known as “The Kelly”), the City of Wetumpka, and the Smoot Harris Family, aims to benefit the local community by boosting tourism, fostering economic development, and providing exposure to The Kelly. Thomas Harris sees the festival as a means to showcase Wetumpka as an emerging hub for the arts.

In essence, Jared Knox’s artistic journey, from a mechanical engineering student to a celebrated wildlife artist, showcases the transformative power of passion and encouragement. His winning painting not only captures the essence of wildlife but also symbolizes the convergence of art and the great outdoors.