Artist pays tribute to local farmer death, raises awareness for farm vehicles

By DYLAN SMITH, Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Macomb artist Kelley Quinn is making her bid to bring awareness to the community about farm vehicles on roadways. 

Quinn’s efforts come after the death of Macomb-area farmer Tim Sullivan who was struck on May 22, 2019 while driving a tractor. He died the following day. Local farmers paid tribute to Sullivan by parking their tractors along the roadside leading up to Sullivan’s final resting place. 

“All of us have been guilty of looking at our phone, looking at the radio, talking to the person next to us and not being fully focused,” Quinn said. “I am hoping that this project will help people be aware that we are on shared roadways and to not be so distracted by the things that are typically distracting to us.”

It was the sight of farm vehicles along the road that inspired Quinn to start Tractor Town Macomb, an organization with goals of agricultural education, community events and awareness. To raise awareness, the group is using a tractor as a canvas to create mosaic images. 

“When I looked to see what other ideas had been done on tractors, there was absolutely nothing, so nobody had mosaiced a tractor before,” said Quinn. “I felt like this would really be a fitting thing for the uniqueness of Macomb, and the real need for our community to have something to memorialize one of our community members.” 

Work on the tractor began more than a year ago, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Quinn and the many volunteers experienced almost a five-month pause before being able to return to the tractor. Despite the delays, Tractor Town Macomb is on target for an unveiling ceremony that will take place in late May, exactly two years after Sullivan’s death. Quinn credits the many helping hands who have played a huge role in the project’s completion. 

“We’ve got a great group of volunteers,” Quinn said. “Everybody went through a workshop together, so they all learned how to do single-point perspective with landscapes, and the work on the tractor shows that. Everybody has an individual spot that they did on that that they would be able to point at and say ‘this is mine.’”  

Quinn has had numerous works of art displayed in the Central Illinois region. The tractor will stand in downtown Macomb as a tribute and a reminder for drivers to watch for farm vehicles on roadways.

Progress on Tractor Town Macomb can be seen on their Facebook page, and Quinn’s artwork can also be viewed at kelleykquinn.com