The Knoxville Museum of Art Presents The Paternal Suit: Heirlooms from the F. Scott Hess Family Foundation

July 29, 2015

The Knoxville Museum of Art presents The Paternal Suit: Heirlooms from the F. Scott Hess Family Foundation August 21-November 8, 2015. This unique and challenging exhibition questions where personal stories end and national history begins. Los Angeles artist F. Scott Hess explores this and other questions in this multimedia exploration of the artist’s paternal ancestry going back four centuries.

The Paternal Suit consists of over 100 paintings, prints, and objects created by Hess, but presented as legitimate historical artifacts, and supported by photographs, documents, and historical ephemera. Each object and artwork bears an artist’s name and detailed provenance and has been executed in the style of the century from which it supposedly originates. Sculpture, ceramics, furniture, toys, newspaper clippings, historic photographs, guns, and costumes advance the story. Hess does not claim authorship for the works on display, instead, he ascribes to them fictional artists, referring to himself as the director of the “F. Scott Hess Family Foundation.”

The exhibition follows Hess’s ancestral lineage from 17th-century England to South Carolina and Georgia, where family members became key players in the War Between the States (1860–65). Through the prism of his ancestry, Hess examines the impact of false history and deception within each generation and throughout society as a whole, and questions the authority of these perceived “truths.” The ultimate subtext for the installation, which traces the trajectory of the Iverson, Patton, Nolan, and Hess family lines, is the seven-year old artist’s abandonment by his own father after a parental divorce.

General Stoneman’s Horse, Lemuel Poole Hoole, 1864, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

The Paternal Suit: Heirlooms from the F. Scott Hess Family Foundation was organized by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, College of Charleston School of the Arts. The KMA presenting sponsor is Emerson Process Management. Local media sponsors include DMG Bluegill, Kurt Zinser Graphic Design, and WBIR-TV.

The Knoxville Museum of Art
The Knoxville Museum of Art celebrates the art and artists of East Tennessee, presents new art and new ideas, serves and educates diverse audiences, and enhances Knoxville’s quality of life. The museum is located in downtown Knoxville at 1050 World’s Fair Park and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10am–5pm, and Sunday 1pm-5pm. Admission and parking are free. For more information, contact Angela Thomas at 865.934.2034 or visit