fine artist - art educator - art advocate - kentucky colonel

Colonel Russell C. Bennett, The Art Coach, was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel on March 21, 2023 for his work as an art educator, artist, and art advocate. Below, You can learn more about his work in all these areas that has now spanned nearly thirty years.

As an artist, Russell’s personal work revolves around portraiture in a variety of media. He enjoys creating work that revolves around his musical heroes, sports figures, memories and retro/pop subjects. Recently, prints of Russell’s painting "The Warrior" (which commemorates the career of the Tennessee coaching legend, Charlie Bayless) are available and Russell donates proceeds from the print to benefit the Charlie and Jane Bayless Scholarship. Russell has exhibited in numbers of shows across Tennessee and Virginia. He has five solo exhibits to his credit including the exhibit "Slapdash" (2012) which provided viewers with a broad look into the art forms that Russell had been creating from in the previous decade: From portraits and CD package designs to ceramics and paintings. the traveling "Art, Religion and the Human Condition" was viewed at First Free will Baptist Church of Elizabethton, TN (2000), Belmont University in Nashville, TN (2001) and The Renaissance Center in Kingsport, TN (2003). The online exhibit, "ART365" (2010) challenged Russell to use the vehicle of social media to create and display a small artwork for everyday of the year. While teaching ceramics, Russell curated a joint exhibit featuring his work alongside those of his students. "Eye to Eye: Instructor and His Pupils" (2008) at the Johnson City Area Arts Council Gallery. He has appeared in articles in the local print media and television interviews  Russell has donated artwork for many years to causes such as the Johnson City Area Arts Council's 4x4 Gala, the Johnson City Public Art 5x5 Art Exhibit and Fundraiser, The Junior League of Kingsport, and other local causes to support local athletics, restaurants, and churches.  He has also created a variety of art, posters, marketing designs, and other products for such clients as The Jerry Lee Lewis Estate, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, Tribute Media Source, local music artists, and print publications. His artworks are in private and public collections across the globe.

 As an art educator, Russell has taught all levels of learners since 1994. He has created multiple school art programs from scratch, authored a Goals 2000 Grant, and regularly exhibits his students’ artworks. He was awarded the Tennessee Art Education Association’s Outstanding Art Educator of the Year in 2005. Russell is currently an art instructor at the high school level teaching a wide variety of design, printmaking, painting and Advanced Placement Studio courses. His students are often featured in local and regional exhibits. They have garner awards, honors, and accolades from local art guilds and the United States House of Representatives. He has had Students place first in Tennessee's First Congressional District in 2021 and 2023, as well as Second place (2021) and Third Place (2023) in the contests. Russell received Congressional Art Teacher of the Year in 2021 and 2023. Recently, Russell has been instrumental in creating an Alumni Legacy Gallery of student artwork for his high school. He has also served the Department of Education for the State of Tennessee in visual art curriculum revisions, visual art standards development, and as a PRAXIS art content area consultant. Russell conducts workshops and other learning opportunities at the local, state and national levels for such organizations as National Art Education Association, Tennessee Art Education Association, and the Johnson City Area Arts Council. Teaching more than 6,000 students in his career thus far, many of his former arts focused students have become graphic designers, photographers, art educators, and animators.

 As an art advocate, Russell served on the executive board of the Tennessee Art Education Association for more than a decade. TAEA saw membership more than double under Russell's tenure as membership chair (1997-2001). In 2002, He was elected TAEA President by his peers and served a seven-year presidential term. This term included the planning of three state-wide art education conferences, overseeing the Executive Board meetings, coordinating state level awards programs, serving as a delegate to and presenting sessions for the National Art Education Association. He has served Tennessee art educators as a Tennessee Arts Academy facilitator and presenter a dozen times since 1997.  Russell was awarded the 2003 Distinguished Service Award by the Alabama Art Education Association and was recognized by the Arts Council of Greater Kingsport with their 2004 Arts Leadership Award. Russell has devoted time to programs such as Scholastic Arts as a juror for regional student art exhibits. Russell has given his time and talents to many local churches, local arts guilds, senior citizens programs and various other arts endeavors.  Russell always fights the good fight for art, his students, the art community, and the cause of art education.