Billy Tripp's Mindfield

Dec 23, 2015 1 comments

In the town of Brownsville in western Tennessee, is a baffling architectural wonder called “The Mindfield” created by local artist Billy Tripp. The Mindfield is a bizarre ensemble of steel girders, fire tower, a water tank and other scrap metal that Billy Tripp salvaged from demolished buildings, closed businesses and decommissioned structures. Included in the network of steel are individual pieces representing various events and periods of Billy's life. Still a work in progress, the Mindfield spreads across approximately half an acre of land, with its tallest structure rising over 125 feet. What began as way to contain the junk in Tripp's yard has since taken on a life of its own. The strange obsession has been continuing for more than 25 years, since it started in 1989, and will only end, as Tripp says, when he dies. After’s his death, the Mindfield will be preserved through the Kohler Foundation. “It’s my cemetery now,” he says. “It’s my grave marker.”


Photo credit: Brent Moore/Flickr

Born to a Methodist minister in Jackson, 30 miles east to Brownsville, Billy was drawn from a young age to metalworking. One of his earliest memories is of his father fixing a broken wagon handle by brazing the metal. As a teenager, Billy would stop at the town of Shiloh, which fell on the way of his ham delivery route, and gaze at the spark-and-light show of a welding shop lit up at night.

A self-trained artist, Billy acquired his metalworking skills through trial and error and from the advice of welders he has known. His first sculpture for a gas-welding class was a small skeleton of a cathedral that bore an odd resemblance to the Mindfield.

Billy Tripp also wrote a massive semi-autobiographical novel called The Mindfield Years, and is currently working on his second novel. The Mindfield is also the largest outdoor sculpture in Tennessee.


Photo credit: Jason Carswell/Flickr


Photo credit: Brent Turner/Flickr


Photo credit: sporst/Flickr


Photo credit: Lindey Turner/Flickr


Photo credit: Megan Morris/Flickr


Photo credit: Megan Morris/Flickr


Photo credit: Lindesy Turner/Flickr


Photo credit: Brent Moore/Flickr

Sources: Wikipedia / Folk Art


  1. Definition of an eye sore... thankfully nimby


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