Bridge Lives On to Beautify Hornets Nest

Artist Zophia Kneiss and Student Brie Ooten

Artist Zophia Kneiss and Student Brie Ooten

The Maury Hornets will be welcomed back to school Thursday by a massive Hornet standing guard at the entrance of the school.

The 1,300 pound structure stands tall just outside of the main entrance.  Made from a mix of metals, the giant hornet rests on a base created by a piece of the old Dandridge Bridge that was demolished back in December.  Created by New Tazewell artist Zophia Kneiss, the sculpture required hundreds of hours over the period of several months to complete.  “When I’m doing a sculpture, I just lose time,” Kneiss said.  “It’s definitely hard work.”  The goal was to make it as close to nature as possible, with even the wings having slight motion when the wind blows, and to represent what Hornet Pride is all about.  “I kind of want it to be a protector of the school.”

What made the display possible though, was the hard work of last year’s eighth grade students, the class of 2022.  The kids, who are now beginning their freshman year, worked tirelessly to raise funds to commission the work of art.  The idea was the brainchild of Brie Ooten, who started to research local artists and found Kneiss.  “We would always come outside and see the green bridge,” Ooten said when asked where she got the idea to use the green bridge for the base.  “So, it was just another part of the school day, seeing the green bridge.  Once they blew it up, it was heartbreaking to us.  When I heard that there were pieces still down by the dock, we tried to get a piece for the sculpture because it felt like a part of the school already.  We contacted the town, and they approved it!”

The Town of Dandridge and its businesses rallied around the students as they worked to raise funds.  “We had a lot of local support from the town.”

The students still owe on the sculpture, and will be raffling off another piece of the old bridge to raise funds for the remaining amount.

hornet sculpture closeup


Source: Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer