​‘The Celestial Sky-Messiah’ at IONA


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer

After years of searching for the best materials and countless hours spent erecting “The Celestial Sky-Messiah” in the fields of IONA, Ed Carlos’ newest artwork is ready for its unveiling.

IONA: Art Sanctuary is a studio in Sewanee that doubles as a gallery, allowing locals to exhibit their works alongside some of owner Ed Carlos’ originals.

Carlos is a former University professor and lifelong artist. His newest piece, “The Celestial Sky-Messiah,” will be exhibited at the Autumn Festival of Fine Arts. The festival begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17. The festival will run through the end of the week.

Inspired by the galaxy and by Christian mythology and the Buddhist tradition, Carlos said the work was years in the making.

“My son Aaron has been doing all the heavy work since April, but I’ve been working for years on it—planning and looking for the metal sheets. I went to Murfressboro, Chattanooga and Nashville, and I went to every metal garbage dump. I went to one in South Pittsburg and to some others in small towns around here. Finally, after all of that, I found them in Winchester. I was thrilled. They had exactly the number I was seeking,” he said.

Carlos was able to salvage 8- and 6-foot metal sheets that were then connected to 14-foot posts, each buried 5-feet underground to provide a strong foundation for the wall to stand.

“Scott Simpson helped me with the drilling. I did the main markings, and then I showed him where to drill the different sizes in the patina. He was a big help. We had metal sheets all over,” he said.

Carlos said one friend jokingly referred to the piece as his Stonehenge project, and another friend commented on the wall’s celestial look. He said that is how they settled on a joint name.

“During the day, it has a different look because of the patina, and at night, it’s illuminated from the inside. You can see the constellations and the faces of Adam and Eve,” said Aaron Bridgers-Carlos. “Dad shellacked the metal panels on each side to protect the patina. Otherwise, it would continue to rust.”

Carlos added that right now, the patina is perfect.

The Autumn Festival of Fine Arts will be held from Sept. 17–20. IONA is located at 630 Garnertown Rd., in Sewanee.