The Mindfield is Billy Tripp's lifework,
and a spectacular four-story sculpture made of steel girders and scrap metal from junkyards and demolition projects. Spires shoot 80 feet into the air, and the work has steel footprints and faces suspended from chains and hooks. The entire work is painted battleship gray – Tripp’s favorite color. There are random letters, names, and dancing stick figures. Many view The Mindfield as an autobiographical collection of images and symbols relating to Tripp’s life.”

“When Billy Tripp began work on The Mindfield 15 years ago, many people in Brownsville, Tennessee, didn’t know what to make of it. . . . Nowadays visitors stop by the Chamber of Commerce asking for directions and information.”
- Dennis Adkins, Tennessee Arts Commission


The Mindfield seems a paradox,

   

The Mindfield seems a paradox, a contradiction of significant

proportion. A work in progress, yet so solid and complete.

A personal statement from its creator causing laughter in one

direction, tears with only a slight turn of the head.

 

It humbles you; it uplifts you; it exudes admiration while

you ponder the sense of it all.

 

The sheer size of the thing comforts even as you draw faith that its

movable parts will not fly away -- or tumble down as if to punish.

But look up. And up again. How far does it lead? Is that truly

Heaven just beyond its highest arch? Does God rest in

that suspended chair, dig with that far-reaching shovel,

or bathe in that exposed tub?

Smiles and sadness. And security in feeling, feeling the

specialness of this work calling for contemplation and serenity.

 

The immortality of the soul could be conveyed in The Mindfield.

But point, laugh, and enjoy -- its ultimate meaning just may lead to

tolerance and compassion.

If not, its moment of pleasure is well worth the experience.

 

                                                                     -David Mathis September 2004


When does vision become reality?
For the past fifteen years, The Mindfield is where a man named Billy Tripp has had what he refers to as “a conversation with myself.” With a dedication that must mirror the calling his father felt to become a Methodist minister, Billy Tripp labors tirelessly to express his innermost feelings through a work that has evolved from local curiosity into life’s work and now garners admiration on a national scale.

Billy Tripp smiles wryly as he says, “I’ll have to work a lot faster in the next fifteen years if I ever want to finish this thing.” A slight man with fair skin, his pale eyes sparkle as, without hesitation, he replies “not in the least” when asked if he cares what people think of his creation. With the conviction of a true non-comformist, he probably does not care but he is certainly curious. Not one but two metal containers labeled “comments” are available at The Mindfield. He’s tired of talking about it, answering the same questions journalists ask him over and over, but he particularly enjoyed a newspaper article in which people on the street were asked to offer their opinions of his work.

When he first began erecting his assemblage of steel beams, metal sculptures, and found objects, it must have appeared that a building was going up. Obviously one man (who turned out to be a city inspector) thought so. Billy was hard at work when he saw the man walk up and, without uttering a word, attach a piece of paper to the side facing the street. He walked around to see what it said. It spoke of there having been no building permit application and ordered that he cease and desist. Billy Tripp appeared before officials at City Hall in Brownsville, Tennessee, and explained that he was creating an outdoor metal sculpture. Perhaps he said something about it being “a conversation” because the official edict handed down was “let him ramble on.”

The Mindfield continues to expand with the fire tower currently in place and the water tower that temporarily lies in pieces next to his workshop/studio. He says he will “dress it up” to bridge the gaps between the current Mindfield proper and the new additions.

Ramble on, Billy. We’re watching and grateful to have the opportunity to eavesdrop on your fascinating conversation.
- Bill Hickerson September 2004