September 09, 2013
Professor Jason Sabbides commissioned to create artwork for Ripley's Believe it or Not

Article by John Lucas, Lees-McRae College student

Lees-McRae College is proud to announce that Jason Sabbides, assistant professor of  Communication Arts & Design, has been commissioned to do two original artworks for Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Gatlinburg, Tenn., with an opening date of September 15.

“[The murals] are Trompe L’oeil pieces [3-D chalk drawings on sidewalks]. They are 2-D murals but highly illusionistic conveying a 3-D world,” said Sabbides. “One is for the main museum and the other is for the haunted house. [Ripley's] plans on digitizing [the murals], turning the huge five foot tall artworks into stickers, and putting them in their galleries all over the world.”

Sabbides is a new face on the Lees-McRae campus, having joined the Division of Creative and Fine Arts effective August 2013. Professional experience, such as commissioned pieces, is what Sabbides is most excited to teach his classes. He often tells his students how important it is to bring the real world into the classroom and help [students] prepare for art outside of school.

Jason is originally from Springfield, Mass. and currently lives in Johnson City, Tenn.  Sabbides is a U.S. Army veteran of six years who started his professional career in 2004 after returning to civilian life.  He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and his Master of Fine Arts from East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Previously, he has served as a professor of 2-D Design at ETSU and as a professor at Virginia Highlands Community College teaching Art History, Drawing, and Sculpting.

“Everything has been great so far,” said Sabbides. “The students and faculty have been so energetic and passionate. The mountains are amazing as well. I feel so close to nature and I’m excited to finally move here. I’m jealous of what the students have available to them [at Lees-McRae], and I am very excited to use what I have available to me. Everything has just been wonderful!”

Throughout his college career Sabbides worked with children and adults with Autism and Asperger’s teaching them art and life skills. When Sabbides is not teaching at Lees-McRae, he teaches free art classes to senior citizens at the Johnson City Recreation Center.

Media Contact:

Blaine Hansen  |  Vice President of Strategic Planning and Effectiveness
Tel: 828.898.8838  |  Email: