Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Jenna Maurice and John Whitten ‘Get Lost’ at WAG’s August Show

Posted on: July 7th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents A Field Guide to Getting Lost, featuring video work by alumni Jenna Maurice and John Whitten, at its downtown gallery WAG during the August 2 edition of the First Saturday Art Crawl.

Taken from the title of the 2006 book by Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a video-based exhibition about Maurice and Whitten’s relationships with nature, the unknown, and their search for the unfamiliar. These artists champion being lost. It is a goal for which they strive. Their research happens deep in secluded areas where isolation and solitude are desirable characteristics. Having relocated from Nashville to geographic regions offering some of the United States’ most diverse landscapes (Maurice to Colorado and Whitten to Oregon), their work deals with the subtleties of communication amid isolation, and their interpretation of the natural world. Fueled by a desire to discover a deeper level of connectedness to their environment, the two artists employ a range of tactics from subtle, poetic gestures of mimicry to spectacular displays of signals designed to attract help. In this work, both artists question their sense of place in the natural world, what it means to make one’s way through life, and what it means to be a lost soul.

Jenna Maurice Lowest Point

“Interacting with the Lowest Point in North America”

Jenna Maurice ( is an interdisciplinary artist who lives and works in Denver, CO. Relationships, relational dynamics, communication and problems with language are the things she questions, ponders and experiments with in her work. She is interested in the human experience of empathetic response, as well as the subtleties of the body as a tool for non-verbal communication.

She received a BFA in Photography from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, and an MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her current studio practice centers around dabbling in whatever makes sense for solving the problems she wants to address. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Boulder, Deluge Contemporary in Victoria, Canada, and the Contemporary LivingGallery in Lecce, Italy. 

Jenna Maurice: three images from the 2013 series “Concerning the Landscape: A Study in Relationships” 


Jenna Maurice 1 cactus

Jenna Maurice Bush


John Whitten ( excavates the meditative and philosophical implications of what it means to wander. The question of what it means to be a lost soul frames his practice as he searches for the unfamiliar. Driven by a passion for the outdoors and our cultural fascination with survivalism, his drawings and videos investigate what it means to make one’s way through life.

Whitten grew up in rural Indiana surrounded by corn, animals, and a fundamentalist belief system. He majored in studio arts as an undergraduate, receiving his AS from Vincennes University in Vincennes, IN, and BFA in Fine Art from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. He went on to receive his MFA from the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Whitten’s work has been screened/exhibited nationally in galleries, museums and raw exhibition spaces. His work has been included in exhibitions at Disjecta in Portland, OR; the University of Oregon’s Laverne Krause Gallery; Clatsop Community College in Astoria, OR; and in Nashville at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Rymer Gallery, Zeitgeist Gallery and Belmont University’s Leu Art Gallery. He spends his time in the South, Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

John Whitten Signal

John Whitten, “Signal” (2013)

John Witten_Smoke and Mirrors

John Whitten, “Smoke and Mirrors” (2013)








WAG–an acronym for Watkins Arcade Gallery–is located in suite 77 upstairs in the historic Arcade and is open the first Saturday evening of the month during each Art Crawl (from 6-9 p.m.), and by appointment.

Art Crawl logoWAG joins approximately 20 participating Art Crawl galleries along Fifth Avenue of the Arts and upstairs in the Historic Arcade. Admission is free, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership provides two free shuttles traveling among the venues. For more information on the First Saturday Art Crawl, visit

About WAG
The Watkins Arcade Gallery–WAG–is a public exhibition space of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film committed to serving the College community and the community at large through exhibitions and programs that enhance curriculum as well as engage a greater audience in the visual arts. WAG is dedicated to supporting the educational and cultural mission of the College by encouraging students to think independently and creatively about their art practice and role as critical thinkers within the cultural landscape. The venue will present shows year-round featuring work by Watkins students, alumni and other professional artists. For inquiries, contact [email protected]. WAG is the second Watkins-run gallery space, joining the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery,the primary exhibiting space on the College’s campus in Metro Center.

About Rebecca Solnit 
Field Guide coverWriter, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of 15 books, as well as numerous essays in numerous museum catalogs and anthologies, about environment, landscape, community, art, politics, the power of stories and hope. A Field Guide to Getting Lost (Penguin, 2006) is an investigation into loss, losing and being lost. Taking in subjects as eclectic as memory and mapmaking, Hitchcock movies and Renaissance painting, Solnit combines memoir, history and philosophy to explore the challenges of living with uncertainty while shedding glittering new light on the way we live now.



WAG Aug 2014 evite

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Watkins Welcomes Laurence Papel and William Warfield to Board of Trustees

Posted on: July 3rd, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film has added two members to its Board of Trustees, it was announced by chair Samuel E. Stumpf, Jr.

Joining the board of the four-year, baccalaureate visual arts college are Laurence M. (Larry) Papel, attorney at law, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, and William (Bill) Warfield, president, Brookside Properties. They each will serve a three-year term.

Mr. Papel is managing partner of the Nashville office of Nelson Mullins, a law film established in 1897 with offices in seven states and the District of Columbia. He concentrates his practice primarily in the areas of corporate and real estate.

Mr. Warfield directs all corporate operations within Brookside, overseeing more than 140 properties in 12 states. Under his leadership, Brookside, headquartered in Nashville, has grown into one of the premier full service, commercial real estate firms in the southeastern United States.

Current board members continuing in their terms are Beth Scott Clayton Amos, Lynn Bennett, David H. Berryman, William H. Braddy III, James H. Clayton III, Stephanie Conner, Deborah G. Crowder, Dee Doochin, Taylor H. Henry (secretary/treasurer), Reggie Hill, James R. Kelley, Jerry L. Maynard II, Carol L. McCoy, Ken McDonald (vice chair), Eileen N. McGinn, Lucille Nabors, Debbye Oliver, Cano Ozgener, Walter F. Schatz, Steve Sirls, John M. Steele, Samuel E. Stumpf, Jr. (chair), Tarun Surti, Laura Turner, and Waddell H. Wright.

Continuing as Commissioners are Susan A. Basham, Brownlee O. Currey, Jr., and Walter Knestrick.

Watkins President Ellen L. Meyer, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr., serve as ex officio trustees.

Bill Warfield Brookside headshot Wweb

Bill Warfield

Larry Papel

Larry Papel

WAG’s July 5 Show Goes Inside with ‘My Life Is Outside’

Posted on: July 2nd, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents “My Life Is Outside”: Everyday Photographs from Prison at its downtown gallery WAG during the July 5 edition of the First Saturday Art Crawl. Curated by Sharon Stewart, the show features a collection of photographs belonging to Tennessee prisoners, offering a more fully dimensional look at the personal histories, current realities and surrounding communities of these lives than may normally be seen.

WAG July 2014 Harold Wayne Nichols

collection of Harold Wayne Nichols

The title of the show borrows from a reflection shared by Riverbend Maximum Security Institution prisoner Harold Wayne Nichols. Writing on the significance of his photographs when considering his life inside versus outside of prison, he says, “My life is outside.”

Sharon Stewart is a senior in the Photography BFA program at Watkins; much of her current work explores the unique personal and cultural possibilities of vernacular photography. She plans to use photography as a therapeutic tool in her future career as an art therapist.

WAG July 2014 Akil Jahi

from the collection of Akil Jahi

“During the past year, Sharon has been part of a group of students and faculty that have participated in artistic dialogues and art exhibitions with prisoners on death row here in Tennessee,” said Tom Williams, Watkins’ assistant professor of art history. ‘My Life Is Outside’: Everyday Photographs from Prison is her original curatorial effort to expand that conversation. It combines her interest in the uses of photography in ordinary life and the life experience of people who are often defined by the institutions that imprison them. Sharon’s exhibition offers a glimpse of their communities and their families in order to show that life for them endures outside the walls of prison.” In addition to photographs, the exhibition includes writings by the prisoners about their images. Docents will be available at the gallery opening to share accounts of stories, as told to them by the prisoners, about select displayed photographs.

“My Life Is Outside” involves multiple participants from REACH, an organization for reciprocal education led by insiders on Tennessee’s death row (Unit 2 at Riverbend). For more information on their initiatives visit

WAG–an acronym for Watkins Arcade Gallery–is located in suite 77 upstairs in the historic Arcade and is open the first Saturday evening of the month during each Art Crawl (from 6-9 p.m.), and by appointment. WAG joins approximately 20 participating Art Crawl galleries along Fifth Avenue of the Arts and upstairs in the Historic Arcade. Admission is free, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership provides two free shuttles traveling among the venues. For more information on the First Saturday Art Crawl, visit

Read about the September 2013 COOP gallery show with collaborations between students and Riverbend’s Unit 2 here at the art and culture forum

WAG July 2014 Gary Cone

from the collection of Gary Cone

WAG July 2014 Nickolus Johnson

from the collection of Nickolus Johnson

WAG July 2014 Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman

from the collection of Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman

WAG July 2014 evite

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Co. H Celebrates ‘Mystic Truths’ with July 12 Reception

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Mystic Truths, a multi-media exhibition from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film’s student-led collective Co. H, will celebrate its summer run with a reception on Saturday, July 12, from 6 to 9 p.m. Featuring outstanding work in painting, printmaking, sculpture, drawing, photography, video and installation from 15 area artists, the show remains on view through July 18 in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus.

The reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.

Participating artists are:mystic truths 6 Wweb

  • Caleb Adcock, Fine Art, senior (digital prints)
  • Mika Agari, Fine Art, senior (video)
  • David Anderson, Fine Art, junior (painting)
  • Heather Barrie, Fine Art, senior (printmaking)
  • Kevin Dietz, Fine Art, sophomore (printmaking)
  • Elisha Farahmand, Fine Art, junior (video)
  • Michael Hampton, BFA in Fine Art ‘14 (video)
  • Aaron Harper, Fine Art, senior (drawing)
  • Blake Holland, Film, senior (photography)
  • Casey Payne, Fine Art, junior (painting)
  • Zack Rafuls, Fine Art, senior (sculpture)
  • Alexine Rioux, BFA in Fine Art, ’14 (printmaking)
  • Kayla Saito, Fine Art, senior (sculpture)
  • Luke Weir, Fine Art, junior (conceptual/installation)
  • Weng Tze Yang, photography, senior (photographic installation)


mystic truths1 Wweb“Mystic Truths: A Group Show from Co. H and Friends” collects work from Co. H council members, collaborators and studio mates in order to present a survey of some of the best Watkins-created work. Showcasing current students and recent graduates, “Mystic Truths” includes work across many disciplines, including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, photography, installation and printmaking. The title of the show is pulled from Bruce Nauman’s 1967 neon sign piece “The True Artist Helps The World By Revealing Mystic Truths,” referencing the function of the artist in ironic and hopeful lights simultaneously while also directly supplanting the work within a contemporary context and dialogue.

Currey Gallery’s summer hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.  Free parking is available in the campus lot.

About Co. Hmystic truths2 Wweb
A collective of artists from various disciplines of the visual arts, Co. H provides opportunities for both students and professionals pursuing and/or working in the arts. Founded at Watkins in 2011, Co. H activity includes hosting lecture by artists and art professionals, holding studio critiques and collaborating on multi-disciplinary performances within the community. Visit

About Bruce Nauman
Born in 1941 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Bruce Nauman has been recognized since the early 1970s as one of the most innovative and provocative of America’s contemporary artists. Nauman finds inspiration in the activities, speech, and materials of everyday life. He graduated with a BFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1964, and with an MFA from the University of California, Davis, in 1966. Confronted with the question “What to do?” in his studio soon after leaving school, Nauman had the simple but profound realization that “If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.” Working in the diverse mediums of sculpture, video, film, printmaking, performance, and installation, Nauman concentrates less on the development of a characteristic style and more on the way in which a process or activity can transform or become a work of art. A survey of his diverse output demonstrates the alternately political, prosaic, spiritual, and crass methods by which Nauman examines life in all its gory details, mapping the human arc between life and death. The text from an early neon work proclaims: “The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths.” Whether or not we—or even Nauman—agree with this statement, the underlying subtext of the piece emphasizes the way in which the audience, artist, and culture at large are involved in the resonance a work of art will ultimately have. Nauman lives in New Mexico.

Bruce Nauman True Artist sign Bruce Nauman, “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths,” neon and clear glass tubing suspension supports; 59 x 55 x 2 inches, 1967(Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Bruce Nauman’s neon sign asks a multitude of questions with regard to the 
ways in which the 20th century conceived both avant-garde art and the role of the 
artist in society. If earlier European modernists, such as Mondrian, 
Malevich, and Kandinsky, sought to use art 
to reveal deep-seated truths about the human condition and the role of the artist 
in general, then Bruce Nauman’s “The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing 
Mystic Truths” questions such transhistorical and universal 
statements. With regard to this work, Nauman said:

The most difficult thing about the whole piece for me was the statement. It 
was a kind of test—like when you say something out loud to see if you 
believe it. Once written down, I could see that the statement [...] was on 
the one hand a totally silly idea and yet, on the other hand, I believed it. 
It’s true and not true at the same time. It depends on how you interpret it 
and how seriously you take yourself. For me it’s still a very strong thought.

Steven Womack Keeps Mystery Alive with ‘Resurrection Bay’

Posted on: June 15th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Resurrection Bay  coverWatkins Professor Steven Womack, a member of the Film School faculty since 1995 and an award-winning mystery writer, will see his eleventh novel, the suspense-thriller Resurrection Bay, published June 8 by Midnight Ink Books.

Resurrection Bay is inspired by the real-life case of serial killer Robert Hansen who, in the 1970s through the early 80s, murdered as many as 21 women around Anchorage, Alaska. The novel is a collaboration between Womack and Wayne McDaniel, whose original screenplay was the basis of the project.

Per Midnight Ink Books:

From Edgar Award-winning author Steven Womack and Wayne McDaniel comes a force of evil on par with Hannibal Lecter in a heart-pounding page-turner you can’t put down.

Decatur Kaiser seems like an ordinary family man with a passion for hunting and a wall full of trophies to prove it. Every June, Decatur sends his wife and kids to visit the grandparents so he can start his summer project.

Fueled by cocaine and a complete disregard for human life, Decatur kidnaps a young woman and flies to a deserted island in the middle of Resurrection Bay. There he abuses and tortures her, then turns his victim loose and hunts her like big game through the Alaskan wilderness.

Summer after summer, Decatur collects his trophies.

Inspired by the real-life story of Alaska’s most famous serial killer, Resurrection Bay is a classic study of evil: where it comes from, how it operates, and what it takes to bring it down.

Two author signings are scheduled locally: Tuesday, June 17, 6:30 p.m at Parnassus Books and Thursday, June 26, 7 p.m., at the Barnes & Noble in Cool Springs.

More information on Resurrection Bay is available via Amazon and Facebook  and at

About the Author
A native of Nashville, Steve Womack is a graduate of Western Reserve Academy and Tulane University, where an unpublished novel of his was the first novel ever accepted as an undergraduate honors thesis. He also holds an M.F.A. from the Southampton College writing program.

Six of his 10 novels have received national recognition, including the highest award presented to writers in the field of mystery and crime fiction. Womack’s third book, Dead Folks’ Blues, was presented the 1994 Edgar Allan Poe Award as Best Original Paperback Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. The novel featured bumbling ex-newspaperman turned private detective Harry James Denton and was called by the Virginia Pilot And Ledger Star a “virtuoso performance.”

Murder Manual, the fifth installment in the series, was published by Ballantine Books in 1998 and was accorded nominations in the “Triple Crown” of mystery. The novel was nominated for the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award as Best Original Paperback Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Murder Manual was awarded the 1999 Shamus Award as Best Paperback Original by the Private Eye Writers of America. The book was also nominated for The Anthony Award, given by members of Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention.

Steve Womack headshotDirty Money, the sixth installment in the award-winning Harry James Denton series, was published in 2000 by Fawcett Books and was called “irresistible” by the New York Times. The book was also nominated for the Shamus Award as Best Original Paperback Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America.

The second Harry James Denton mystery, Torch Town Boogie (1993), was also nominated for the Shamus Award, as was the third installment in the Denton series, Way Past Dead (1995). The New York Times called Way Past Dead “a real hoot,” and added that “Harry has something that cuts him apart from the rest of the herd.”

The fourth installment in the series, Chain Of Fools (1996), was nominated for both the Shamus and Anthony Awards. The Harry James Denton novels have been published in Japan, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

Womack is also the author of the Jack Lynch books, a trilogy featuring public relations executive/spinmeister Jack Lynch. The first in that series of novels, Murphy’s Fault was called by The New York Times “tough and articulate” in naming the book to its 1990 annual List of Notable Books as one of the top novels of the year, the only first crime novel on that year’s list.

Publishers Weekly called Murphy’s Fault, “a welcome addition to the genre.” First published in hardcover by St. Martin’s Press, the novel was also published in paperback in 1991. Completing the Jack Lynch saga were Smash Cut (1991) and The Software Bomb (1993).

In addition to writing, Womack is a professor of screenwriting at the Film School of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, where he previously served a five-year term as Chair. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Screenwriting Association, has been a Regional Vice-President of the Mystery Writers of America and for several years led a fiction writing workshop at the Tennessee State Prison. He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Mid-South regional chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Womack co-wrote the screenplay for Proudheart, an original made-for-cable movie which premiered in August 1993 on The Nashville Network and was nominated for a CableAce Award. He also co-wrote the ABC-TV film Volcano: Fire On The Mountain, which first aired in February 1997 and was one of the highest-rated TV movies of the year.

Womack is a former president of Novelists, Inc., an organization of multi-published professional novelists. He is still a member of Novelists, Inc. as well as The Writers Guild of America, East. A frequent speaker, Womack regularly appears on writers’ panels and at book fairs, including the Southern Book Festival, the North Carolina Literary Festival, the Kentucky Book Fair, the Southeast Writers Association and Bouchercon, The World Mystery Convention.

HerStory Institute Summer Cinema Series Screens at Watkins

Posted on: June 11th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

In partnership with Watkins Community Education, the HerStory Institute presents a summer cinema series of films highlighting the writing, producing, directing, cinematography, production design and editing in films created by women. The series will screen a range of features, shorts and documentary films including but not limited to independent and foreign films, classics and festival favorites. In addition, the HerStory Institute will deliver monthly panels and/or workshops for film aficionados who desire a deeper understanding of the art and craft of film. HerStory Institute is supported by Her Point of View, an international arts and entertainment festival supporting the creative work of women.

“We are very excited to partner with HerStory Institute to provide summer screenings to the public that highlight the storytelling of female filmmakers from around the globe,” said Mary Beth Harding, director of Watkins’ Community Education department. “Through this partnership we hope to empower and inspire female artists in our community, and we look forward to furthering such opportunities by hosting the inaugural Her Point of View Film Festival during Labor Day weekend.”

Upcoming HerStory Screenings in the Watkins Theater:

Saturday, June 14

Shooting Women image WwebShooting Women
Alexis Krasilovsky
5:00 p.m.

Featuring more than 50 camerawomen from around the world, and shot over a period of six years, Shooting Women, by pioneering filmmaker and cinema studies professor Alexis Krasilovsky, celebrates the amazing talent and unflinching spirit of image-making women from the sets of Hollywood and Bollywood to the war zones of Afghanistan. This internationally-acclaimed DOC, based on Krasilovsky’s book “Women Behind the Camera,” broaches the persistent issues of the glass ceiling, sexual harassment, and childcare for professional camerawomen around the globe—working from environments where raising such issues is seen as “unprofessional.”

Despite the Gods image Despite the Gods
Penny Vozniak
7:00 p.m.

Welcome to India! Home of the world’s largest movie industry, where mere mortal film stars are worshiped with the same fervor as timeless Indian Gods, and the new buzzword ‘co-production’ looms on the lips of Indian financiers keen to form a Bollywood-Hollywood alliance. In 2008, Hollywood’s prodigal daughter, Jennifer Lynch, daughter of film director David Lynch, travels to India to direct “Hisss,” a creature-FEA film about the vengeful snake goddess Nagin. But things go wrong very quickly–perhaps there is a good reason why Hollywood and Bollywood have never blended like this before. With uncensored candour, Lynch can only cheerlead and watch with equal parts hope, part despair as her beloved “Hisss” strays further and further away from her original vision. Surrounded by a team of truly wonderful Indian crew, her 12-year-old daughter and a cast of Bollywood stars, she does her best to stay sane and guide the production through a minefield of disasters.

Admission to each screening is $12 (purchase tickets online).

More screenings (see event site for descriptions):

Tuesday, June 17: Finding Hope for Reactive Affective Disorder, 7 p.m.
Tuesday, June 24: Light Fly, Fly High, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 28: Beneath the Harvest Sky – 2 screenings: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 12: Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights – 2 screenings: 3 p.m & 7 p.m.
and Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority, 5 p.m.
Saturday, July 19: Homebound  – 2 screenings: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 26: Redemption Trail – 2 screenings: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 2: The Milky Way – 2 screenings: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 9: It Felt Like Love – 2 screenings: 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 16: Bringing Hemp Home, 5 p.m., and The Carbon Rush, 7 p.m.
Saturday, August 23: Justice for Sale, 5 p.m., and Pushing the Elephant, 7 p.m.

For more information about the films, including trailers, visit To purchase tickets please visit For more information about Her Point of View or to submit your film project for programming consideration, please visit their website or call 615-656-3858.

Comm Ed  logo_Wweb


Co. H Screens for ‘Attention’ at Track One

Posted on: June 9th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

In an effort to combat culturally induced impatience and shortened attention spans, student art collective Co. H presents ATTENTION, a juried, hour-long screening of video art, on Friday, June 20, at the Track One Building. The event, which is free and open to the public, includes a reception at 8 p.m. before the screening at 9 p.m.

Time-based art (in other words, work that is to be experienced in duration) suffers as a result of these “culture of now” factors; as such, the work here is presented in succession, as a screening, rather than installed in space to be addressed in passing. ATTENTION features 15 videos from both students and professors working in Nashville and Chattanooga, as well as from artists based in Pennsylvania and New York.

Participating artists:

  • Co H June 20 2014 AttentionBenjamin Anderson
  • Sharyn Bachleda
  • Keren Beddoe
  • Kellie Bornhoft
  • Bradley Braunschweig
  • Ann Catherine Carter & Tyler Blankenship
  • Elisha Farahmand
  • Holden Head
  • Morgan Higby-Flowers
  • Ron Lambert
  • Casey Payne
  • Angel Renta
  • William Stewart
  • Hannah Taylor
  • Chelsea Velaga

The Track One Building is located at 1211 4th Avenue South (4th and Chestnut), Nashville/37210, in the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood.

Launched at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in 20111, Co. H is a collective of artists from various disciplines of the visual arts providing opportunities for both students and professionals pursuing and/or working in the arts. For more information, visit

Film School Alumni Produce Star-Studded Summer Flick

Posted on: June 5th, 2014 by Jenna Maurice

Alumni Brooke Bernard and Ryan Zacarias, producers at Nomadic Independence Pictures in Nashville,  just finished producing the summer film “Ping Pong Summer” with an all-star cast that includes Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris and Lea Thompson. “Ping Pong Summer” was an official selection at Sundance Film Festival as well as SXSW. The film opens June 6 in theaters across the country. Connect with the film on facebook to see interviews with the cast as well as to get updates about when the film will be showing near you. Check out the trailer below:

WAG’s June Show by Holly Carden Is ‘Rather Sketchy’

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents Rather Sketchy: Sketchbooks, brainstorms and process-work by Graphic Design major Holly Carden at its downtown gallery WAG during the June 7 edition of the First Saturday Art Crawl.

Holly Carden stuff to NCRather Sketchy will feature a selection of Carden’s highly detailed illustrations along with all of the sketches and process-work associated with them. “When someone looks at one of my pictures, they are only seeing a portion of what I see. Whether I like it or not, I see the entire project: dozens of sketches, thumbnails, revisions, notes, late nights, pots of coffee, meetings, emails and phone calls. All the frustration of hitting a Holly Carden NvArtswall, the joy of making a breakthrough, the exasperation of going through yet another revision, or the excitement of marking the project ‘complete’ comes flooding back,” says Carden. “Sketchbooks are an arena of complete freedom, uninhibited by the demands of clients, the neurosis of the artist’s perfectionism, the fear of judgment. They are the most direct window into the mind of an artist. My goal is to show those who come out to see Rather Sketchy an honest, intimate view of ‘the work that goes into the work.’”

WAG–an acronym for Watkins Arcade Gallery–is located in suite 77 upstairs in the historic Arcade and is open the first Saturday evening of the month during each Art Crawl (from 6-9 p.m.), and by appointment. WAG joins approximately 20 participating Art Crawl galleries along Fifth Avenue of the Arts and upstairs in the Historic Arcade. Admission is free, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership provides two free shuttles traveling among the venues. For more information on the First Saturday Art Crawl, visit

Holly Carden pourhouse About Holly Carden
Holly Carden is an illustrator and a senior in the Graphic Design program at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. Born and raised in the United Kingdom on the illustrated books of Roald Dahl and Jill Barklem, Holly has always loved drawing, specializing in dense, high-detail pictures. Her work, spanning a wide variety of styles and mediums, has won multiple awards including the Robb Swaney Prize for Excellence and a National American Advertising Federation Award (ADDY). Holly can often be spotted drawing the people and places of the Nashville area in her sketchbook, inspired by being part of such a fun and creative city. For more information, visit

About WAG
The Watkins Arcade Gallery–WAG–is a public exhibition space of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film committed to serving the College community and the community at large through exhibitions and programs that enhance curriculum as well as engage a greater audience in the visual arts. WAG is dedicated to supporting the educational and cultural mission of the College by encouraging students to think independently and creatively about their art practice and role as critical thinkers within the cultural landscape. The venue will present shows year-round featuring work by Watkins students, alumni and other professional artists. For inquiries, contact [email protected] WAG is the second Watkins-run gallery space, joining the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery, the primary exhibiting space on the College’s campus in Metro Center.

Rather Sketchy by Holly Carden June 2014 WAG evite

Click on image to enlarge evite

Holly Carden triangle

Holly Carden plane











photo of Holly Carden by Tamara Reynolds for Nashville Arts; read feature here

Mayor Dean Shares Wisdom in Commencement Remarks

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by Caroline Davis

Congratulations to the Class of 2014, 61 students strong.  BFA, BA and Certificate degrees were bestowed during ceremonies at the Downtown Presbyterian Church on May 17, as well as an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree to Nashville Mayor Karl F. Dean, who also delivered the Commencement address.  Johnny Whitman, BFA in Graphic Design, was named winner of the Samuel Watkins Award of Excellence for having the highest GPA.

Below are remarks by President Ellen L. Meyer, followed by the mayor’s speech.

Photos by Tyler Blankenship ’12

Introduction by President Ellen L. Meyer of
the recipient of the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts
Karl F. Dean

Watkins Graduation 2014 Karl Dean hooding

Vice President for Academic Affairs Joy McKenzie, Mayor Karl Dean, President Ellen L. Meyer

Imagine you are adrift in space with a satellite’s view of all the nearby planets. Suddenly you are moving toward Earth, specifically its northern hemisphere. As you speed along, you begin to recognize the shape of North America. Moving ever closer, you trace the line of the great Mississippi River. Through a mist of clouds, your eyes are drawn eastward to the green state of Tennessee, to its sparkling, gem-like city of Nashville.

What will you find when you visit this place, unique in its latitude and longitude, unique in its make-up of streets, of buildings, of environment, of culture, of people?

Nashville. Its venerable chief, a thoughtful, listening leader, will be your terrestrial guide. As mayor, the honorable Karl Dean shows you his pride and joy: a thriving city no less a work of art than any masterpiece. You soon realize that this place you have found—this robust economy teeming with productivity; this abode to artists, engineers, musicians and teachers; this place of cultural richness; this home proudly claimed by its inhabitants—has in fact found you.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to introduce you to this artist-mayor, the maestro of Nashville, today’s commencement speaker and honorary doctorate recipient, and to tell you how his work to make this city a safe and welcoming place for all, especially artists, has made Nashville a destination for the mind, body and soul.

A true lover of art, literature and humanity, Mayor Dean says, “I don’t know how a person could be well rounded and achieve all that they can achieve unless they’re exposed to the arts.” Thus, while Nashville has long been a place that attracts and inspires creative people, under our current mayor’s direction, it is increasingly committed to discovering and upholding them.

The mayor’s arts-friendly governance has been good for Nashville’s global profile. Already renowned as a music mecca, higher education center and healthcare nexus, and now with one of the nation’s fastest-growing populations, Nashville has been tagged an “it” city, “red hot” and “electric.” Last year Condé Nast listed Nashville among the top five travel destinations in the world. It appears regularly on “best-of” lists for business, music, food and affordability. Perhaps most importantly to those present here today, the city has been called one of the “best places to be an artist.”

Mayor Dean has been influential in ensuring that funding for arts and culture remains steadfast. In recent, difficult budget cycles, the libraries and the arts have received modest increases, and over $10.8 million in arts and culture grants have been awarded to more than 100 community agencies. Nashvillians of all ages participate in the Nashville Reads literary campaign, the education program Music Makes Us, and Artober, a month-long celebration of arts and culture. And through the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Mayor has overseen the installation of 29 new public art pieces.

Mayor Dean integrated the creative industry into city decision-making through the formation of the Music City Music Council, whose notable initiatives include Ryman Lofts, Nashville’s first affordable apartment residence geared toward career artists. The Mayor also championed Nashville’s first formal arts district, 5th Avenue of the Arts. — I’m sure many of you enjoy the monthly Saturday night art crawls, which now include Watkins’ first offsite gallery, located in the downtown arcade.

The Mayor and his administration have welcomed the participation of Watkins in the city’s ongoing transformation, and faculty members have contributed in meaningful ways. In this past year, the Mayor launched the Nashville Film Television Transmedia Council, comprised of leading film and video businesses, professionals and educators, including Film School Chair Richard Gershman. And, in the impressive new convention space, Music City Center, an extensive public art collection includes work from Fine Art faculty members Terry Thacker, Brady Haston and Chair Kristi Hargrove.

Mayor Dean continues to draw on the wisdom and experience of the city’s creative class by making art and culture a key theme in NashvilleNext, a 25-year planning document, so that future galactic travelers can also find and be found by this great city.

Mayor Karl Dean, for your commitment to cultural diversity, for recognizing that an economy that supports its artists will always be vital and relevant, and for your contributions in making Nashville a place that welcomes creators of all kinds, it is with honor that Watkins College of Art, Design & Film bestows upon you the degree, Doctor of Fine Arts.

Commencement speech by
The Honorable Karl F. Dean,
MayorMetropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

Watkins Graduation 2014 Mayor Karl Dean speaking

Mayor Karl Dean

Thank you, President Meyer, the Watkins Board of Trustees and the entire Watkins community, for this Honorary Degree. I am truly humbled, and this is a moment I will never forget. But today is not about me.

It is about all of you graduates out here who have dedicated the last several years of your lives to reaching this day.

It is about your teachers, who have pushed you when you needed pushing and praised you when you needed praising. It is about your families, many of whom have sacrificed to make your dream possible. Today, graduates, is your day. I hope you will all take some time to appreciate how far you have come before you begin your journey forward from here.

As Mayor, I have to say that I am incredibly thankful to have Watkins College in our city. While we may be known around the world as “Music City” – and for good reason – the real story of our city’s success is that our community is filled with creative people of all types.

We’re home to musicians and songwriters of course, but also visual artists like all of you, as well as creative entrepreneurial types who dream up new business models and innovations.

There’s a philosophy – a philosophy that I believe in whole-heartedly – that the most successful cities of the 21st century will be cities that attract the best human capital – people who are smart, creative, and entrepreneurial.

It’s people like you who drive innovation and industry in cities. We need your ideas and energy to create jobs and grow our local economy. Creative people help keep our city vibrant.

Bob Dylan once said “if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.” That’s certainly true for a city. If a city is not constantly reinventing itself and growing and changing – if a city is just sitting stagnant in terms of development and jobs – than it’ a city that’s dying.

Nashville is constantly being reborn.

For the last two years, we’ve had some of the highest percentage job growth in the country. We’re one of the fastest-growing large cities in the country in terms of population growth. And perhaps most telling – over the last year, we’ve had some of the highest levels of construction spending ever in our city history.

And the world is taking notice. Last year the New York Times called us the latest “it” city. And just as locals were getting tired of hearing me talk about that, TIME magazine came out with an article calling us the “South’s Red-Hot Town.”

Our recovery from the Great Recession has outpaced many of our competitor cities.

Why are we doing so great? I would say because of people like you.

I saw a comment from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg once where he said capital is attracted to talent far more than talent is attracted to capital. It is so true. Bright, talented people are going to pick the city they want to be in based on what kind of life they can have there. And businesses are going to be pick the city they want to be in based on the pool of talent available to work for them. Smart, innovative people are attracted to places where their creativity is embraced and where they have opportunities to grow their talent and let their ideas flourish.

The impact that creative people have had on Nashville can be seen all over our city. From beautiful pieces of art that hang in our galleries and in public art displays–

To unique architectural designs, like the Music City Center and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center–

To the great film work done on music videos, films and on TV shows like Nashville–

To our largest industries – like music and hospitality, and even healthcare management, which was born through entrepreneurial thinking and creative business people willing to try something different.

I am thrilled to see so many of you graduating today. Some of you may have plans to move elsewhere – you may even have a job already lined up in another city. But for many of you – hopefully most of you – nothing would be better for our city than for you to make Nashville your permanent home. We’re working hard every day to make our city a better city than any other place you could choose to live.

From quality of life – such as parks and greenways – to availability of jobs. But because we value the importance of creative people, we’ve also worked on efforts that are tailor-suited to your needs. Like Ryman Lofts – the first affordable housing development specifically for artists in Nashville. And the Entrepreneur Center – which is helping smart, creative people of all types develop their ideas and talent into money-making ventures. For the most part, the Entrepreneur Center focuses on healthcare and tech startups – which is great. I believe their work is going to help build the next generation of homegrown companies that will spur the next 50 years of our city’s economic growth.

But it’s just as important that they’re focusing efforts to strengthen our base of artistically creative citizens, as well.

There’s a program for artists at the Entrepreneur Center called Periscope. It’s a six-week workshop giving 25 creators – whether they create music or visual art or something else – the tools they need to be successful business people, so that they can take their talent and generate enough revenue to be self-sufficient and successful.

Just as important as recognizing the value of creativity in a city, successful cities typically have something else in common as well – they’re welcoming and open to all people.

We have worked to make Nashville a city where no matter your race, your religion, your gender, your background or who you love – we recognize that everyone has something to offer, everyone has value.

There’s a famous description of a city upon a hill that describes: “… a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

That’s the type of city we want Nashville to be.

So I hope you will take what you’ve learned here at Watkins and use it to help our city continue to grow and thrive. What you bring to our city as a creative individual is incredibly important.

Watkins Graduation 2014 Mayor Dean w students

Johnny Whitman, Ily Phelps, Karl Dean, Christin Sites, Chelsea Wright

My college graduation was a few years back. OK, more than a few. But I remember very clearly the mix of emotions.The pride of accomplishing the goal I had set for myself. The relief of thinking that I was done with all-nighters and the stress of exams — although law school brought more of that for me down the road. The fear of stepping out into the world.

Looking back now, there are some things I would say to my 20-something-year-old self. And since he’s not here — and you are — I’ll say them to you.

First, do what makes you happy.

You are all talented people. And clearly, you are good at your talent or you wouldn’t be here today

Pablo Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is staying an artist when you grow up.” You have all apparently avoided that pitfall. But there are other lessons we can learn from children. While some things are better left in childhood — like temper tantrums and an obsession with chicken nuggets — I sometimes think the world would be a better place if we were more like our children in some ways.

They know how to embrace what they love. They find joy and beauty in the world around them. They play hard and live in the moment. They do what they love, and they do it with complete abandon. There’s a lesson we can all learn from that.

Obviously, we have to do some things we aren’t thrilled about. We all have to pay taxes. And spend time doing some of the mundane things that are required so that we can do the things we enjoy. But I encourage you to choose your career wisely. Not for the fame or fortune it might bring you. But because it is what makes you excited to go to work every day.

I have been lucky these past six and a half years. I have the best job in the world. There are parts of it that aren’t all that much fun. But every day, I get up and I am excited to go to my office, to go out in the community, to be the Mayor of a growing and prosperous city.

I wish for all of you that same level of joy in the careers you choose.

My second bit of advice to my younger self — and to you — is to set high goals for yourselves. Set them impossibly high, and then aim even higher. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Anything worth doing is going to come with a risk of failure.

When I look back at the big decisions in my life, every one of them involved taking a leap of faith. Going to law school. Getting married. Running for public office. They all required hard work, and they all came with risks. But the work and the risks were worth it every time.

Did I always succeed? Absolutely not. But every experience helped me grow.

When I look back, I honestly don’t remember the simple decisions I made. Or the easy ones. I remember the ones that excited me. The ones that required me to work hard and believe in myself. The ones that came with risk.

And so if I could talk to my 22-year-old self now, I would tell him to aim even higher. To take even more risks. And I would say the same to you.

Today, you have reached a major milestone.Your graduation today shows that you can aim high- and that you have what it takes to reach your goals. So keep that up, and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

And finally, if there was one more bit of advice I would give it would be this: find a way to make a difference.

You don’t have to cure cancer. Or achieve world peace. Or even figure out a way to resolve the bickering in Washington, although that would be nice.

But find a way, however big or small, to make a difference in someone else’s life.

One of the most incredible periods in my time as Mayor was May of 2010, when our city experienced the most devastating natural disaster I could have ever imagined. Some of you probably were just making arrangements to come to Nashville that next Fall.

In two days, over 19 inches of rain fell. Rivers spilled into the streets. A portable building from a school was sent floating down Interstate 24. Our city was declared a national disaster area. Ten Nashvillians lost their lives. Thousands lost their homes. It could have been a time for people to close themselves off from others. There could have been looting. And increased crime. And instead, the most amazing thing happened.

Total strangers came out, by the thousands, and helped their fellow citizens. People were going down streets, handing out food and water. They were side by side with people they had never met, helping them clean their homes, salvage their belongings, and put their lives back together. It was amazing. Country music stars came out in force to donate money and bring attention to the situation.

It was my one of my proudest moments as Mayor.

The saying that came out of those times can still be seen on shirts and bumper stickers around the city — And it sums up the community spirit so well:

“We Are Nashville.”

And so I tell you that story to say that those days came and went. The water receded. Destroyed houses were rebuilt. Damaged buildings were repaired. And everyone moved on.

So why am I telling you about this flood that happened four years ago?

This is why: Because if you go ask any one of those thousands of people who volunteered what their proudest moments have been, I am willing to bet that the way they came together in the aftermath of that flood will be on every one of their top ten lists.

They didn’t wake up that day the rain started with some plan to go help total strangers. But then the opportunity came, Nashvillians rose to the occasion.

So you may not encounter a great flood. I certainly hope you don’t. But you will have unexpected chances in life to make a real difference for someone else.

My advice to you — and to my younger self — would be to take advantage of those opportunities. When you have a chance to reach out and make a difference for someone else, do it.

If you do that, then you will have lived a successful life.

Thank you.