Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Ross Denton and Emily Sue Laird Make Their Marks on WAG at June 6 Show

Posted on: May 19th, 2015 by Caroline Davis No Comments

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents Amour fo’ Phallus, a riotous and ridiculous show of drawings and animation by Watkins alumni Ross Denton and Emily Sue Laird, at its downtown gallery WAG during the June 6 edition of the First Saturday Art Crawl.

Amour fo' Phallus ELaird_RDenton 6.6.15 WwebWith a goal of celebrating the absurd aspects of life in an innocent and fun format, Denton and Laird will fill the gallery from floor to ceiling with chalk images drawn directly on the walls and architectural fixtures of the space. The show will also feature their chalk animation of a budding, blossoming and decaying Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanium), one of the largest and most rare flowering plants on earth. (It’s also known as the corpse flower for an odor reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal.)

“Emily Sue Laird and Ross Denton are kindred spirits with a shared passion for wandering, drawing inspiration from serendipitous discoveries and the unlooked for,” said Dan Brawner, chair of the Department of Graphic Design. “Amour fo’ Phallus is the catalyst for a creative collaboration and offers a unique insight into the productive minds of two lovers of life.”

About the artists:

EmilySusanLaird WwebEmily Sue Laird is a Nashville-based visual artist, production designer and installation artist who earned a BFA in Fine Art from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in 2011. In the past few years, Emily Sue has designed custom work for brands such as West Elm, Janet’s Planet, My Gnome on the Roam, Holiday Inn Suites and Bongo Java, and custom art for multiple music festivals including Marathon Music Works’ Block Party and Nashville Scene’s 25th Birthday Bash. Since 2014 she has been owner and lead designer at Artist Nashville, providing a variety of creative services: mural projects, graphic design, illustration, chalk art and set design for film and television, fashion shows, music videos, tours and in-store retail displays. Her sculptures, textile art and paintings, which frequently incorporate reuse materials, have been shown in several downtown arcade and Wedgewood-Houston galleries and she has been featured by the Nashville Scene, Native Magazine, Lightning 100 and Nashville Arts Magazine. She’s currently working on the second edition of Replication, Nashville’s only juried 3D printing show, in September.

RossDenton WwebRoss Denton is a 2015 graduate of Watkins, earning a BFA in Graphic Design with a concentration in illustration. He grew up on the South Harpeth River outside of Nashville, surrounded by forests and hills, where he never had to wear any shoes. Legend has it that Ross started to draw when he first held a pencil at the age of two and he never stopped. He has won local, district and national Student American Advertising Federation (Addy) awards for illustration, and his work has been published in the international design journal Graphis.

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.

firstsaturdayartcrawl-bordered WwebWAG 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

Ross Denton for WAGAbout 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 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.

Artists Explore Feminist ‘Point of Reference’ in Currey Show Opening May 28

Posted on: May 15th, 2015 by Caroline Davis No Comments

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents Point of Reference,  a student-organized, mixed media show exploring definitions of feminist ideals, from May 28 through July 18 in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus.

The exhibition’s opening reception on Thursday, May 28, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. is free and open to the public.

Lily Adcock, "Transgression"

Lily Adcock, “Transgression” (2014)

Participating are eleven artists – current and former Watkins students and recent alumni from Watkins and MTSU – committed to challenging themselves as feminists through the art they create.

  • Lily Adcock, Watkins, Fine Arts ’15 (painting)
  • Burt Blackwood (video)
  • Peggy Corlew (writer of exhibition manifesto)
  • Ashley Doggett, Watkins, Fine Arts junior (multidisciplinary work)
  • Kelsey Goessman, Watkins, Graphic Design ’15 (multidisciplinary work)
  • Corrina Joyner, Watkins, Fine Arts sophomore (multidisciplinary work)
  • Mika Mollenkopf, MTSU, Fine Arts ‘15 (sculpture)
  • Maxwell Parker (photography)
  • Jill Schumann, Watkins, Photography ‘15 (photography)
  • Sophia Stevenson, Watkins, Fine Arts senior (sculpture)
  • Laura Whitfield, Watkins, Photography ’15 (photography)
Sophia Stevenson,  untitled (fabric slip cast, 2014)

Sophia Stevenson, untitled (fabric slip cast, 2014)

Exhibition statement:  Feminist ideologies are easily misinterpreted throughout history; our departure will constitute our own point of reference. This exhibition explores the ideals of feminism historically pre-defined. No longer passively accepting all knowledge as truth, we are actively approaching our individual experiences, and have formed a group to create our dialogue with stories untold. The purpose of this group is to learn and share the knowledge and experiences of feminist artists living within the contemporary world.

Point of Reference was organized by Jill Schumann and originally shown in Kent State University’s Main Hall Art Gallery, March 10-April 6. Read more here.

Manifesto statement:  In this defining manifesto, we focus more on our individuality, our mode of thought and philosophy, and our explicit wishes starting to turn to action more than a rigid call to action requested of the public. It is a thought imbued blueprint, positioning as an upbeat and positive threshold to the road of our futures, and fuel and inspiration for battling obstacles of patriarchy, or perhaps, our own fears. It’s gentle nature inversely and forcefully reminds us, that yes, our cause is worth it, we are worth it, and that feminism is important.

Click to read more: Peggy Corlew, A Moving Manifesto

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.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


Make A Note for Fifth Annual Handmade & Bound on Oct. 2-3

Posted on: May 7th, 2015 by Caroline Davis

Exhibition & zine entries and marketplace vendor registration now open!

H&BN2013_6777 accordian card bldg front WwebThe fifth annual edition of Handmade & Bound Nashville (H&BN), a two-day celebration of print, paper and book, will unfold Friday, October 2, and Saturday, October 3, at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. The free, family-friendly event–focused on unique and handcrafted book creations with elements of art fair and literary gathering–is presented by the Watkins Library and the Community Education department and features a gallery exhibition, zine collection, marketplace with dozens of vendors, and demos and hands-on activities.

HBN2014 9218 gallery viewers WwebOn Friday, October 2, the festival’s exhibition, Bound Together, will open in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m.

Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Bound Together will showcase handmade books of poetry and collage work inspired by the many definitions of family. The exhibition is the culmination of a series of summer community workshops, led by local book artists, writers and Watkins Community Education, with the Looby Community Center, Casa Azafran, FiftyForward Bordeaux, Oasis Center and Catholic Charities Elder Refugees. Participants will follow writing prompts to help them develop their own explanation of family and create artwork for their bound volumes.

CALL FOR ARTISTS: Additionally, local book artists, writers, and other artists are invited to submit their own individual pieces, artists’ books or artwork based on family for inclusion in Bound Together, which will be on view in the Currey Gallery through October 16.

NEA-color logo WwebThe work’s title/description, artist’s name, address, phone, email and occupation should be included with each piece and sent to Watkins Community Education, 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37228, Attn: Mary Beth Harding. Submissions deadline is September 22.

HBN2014 9443 Amaranthus pic WwebOn Saturday, October 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Watkins’ main academic building, artists, indie publishers and distributors, and book aficionados will come together to sell, trade and buy handmade and affordable publications, printed matter and book-themed creations at the book arts marketplace. The festival will also feature demonstrations and hands-on activities for children and adults, as well as food trucks.

VENDOR SIGN-UP: Vendor registration is open via, Handmade & Bound Nashville on Facebook, or by contacting the Watkins Library at 615.277.7427. Reservation deadline is September 22.

Marketplace tables are available to creators of artists’ books or other printed media; independent publishers of zines, mini-comics, chapbooks, etc.; small distributors of zines, graphic novels and other printed media; and producers of book arts, handmade journals, one-of-a-kind book objects, paper and book-themed jewelry, gifts and accessories, and sellers of book, art and printmaking materials.

HBN2014 9394 zine readers WwebConcurrently in the Watkins Library, H&BN will host Zine-O-Rama, a display of community-submitted zines in all formats and on all subjects. The first Zine-O-Rama in 2012 introduced the world of zines to the broader Nashville book world, and Watkins holds a substantial collection of personal zines, cookzines, fanzines, artiness, cut and paste, comics, minis, and mental health.

ZINE ENTRIES:  Zine submissions (work may be stapled or tied, screen printed or Xeroxed) plus optional artist statement/bio should be sent by September 22 to the Watkins Library, 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd, Nashville, TN 37228, Attn: Lisa Williams.

Artober logo

The Handmade & Bound Nashville festival is an official, registered event of Artober, a broadly collaborative promotional initiative designed to highlight, inform and inspire the community’s participation in the wide range of arts activities offered in the Nashville area during the month of October.

Community Fdtn logoHandmade & Bound Nashville, 5th Edition is hosted by Watkins Community Education and the Watkins Library and is funded in part through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Bound Together is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional sponsors include the Nashville Scene.

Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in Metro Center; free parking is available in the campus lot. MTA’s Metro Center/Route 9 stops directly in front of Watkins (across from the Looby Center).


HBN2014 suitcase display 9439 WwebWhat’s in the marketplace? Dozens of vendors with artists’ books, small press items like comics, mini-comics, graphic novels and zines, blank books, limited-edition prints, handmade paper, art supplies, literary journals, book flair, jewelry, ephemera packs, paper cut and letterpress cards and postcards – plus demos on bookbinding, paperfolding, printmaking, paper cuts and art-making activities for children. Vendors will be posted to as they become available.

HBN2014 artist book cut out cover WwebWhat’s an artist’s book? An artist’s book is a work of art realized in a book-like format. They are usually one-of-a-kind creations or published in small editions, and can employ a form other than bound printed sheet. What truly makes an artist’s book is the artist’s intent, and artists have used the book as inspiration in a myriad of ways and techniques, from traditional to the experimental, to handwritten or handmade booklets, to magazine-like publications

What’s a zine? A zine (pronounced “zeen,” as in “magazine”) is a self-published, small circulation, non-commercial booklet or magazine, usually produced by one person or a few individuals. Zines range from small photocopied booklets, to handwritten or handmade booklets, to magazine-like publications.

Katie Gonzalez, linenlaidfelt

John Porcellino, King-Cat

John Porcellino, King-Cat

in the gallery for “Poetry and Prints”


Interior Design Showcases Senior Projects May 15

Posted on: May 5th, 2015 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents the BFA senior thesis exhibition from the Department of Interior Design, featuring work by Bachelor of Arts degree candidates Hannah Chandler, Whitney Garnier and Catherine Soudoplatoff on Friday, May 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the school’s Interior Design wing.

The exhibition and reception, free and open the public, showcase portfolios of residential, commercial, lighting/furniture and sustainable design work as well as thesis projects.

Hannah Chandler

Hannah Chandler
Thesis statement: Large and small dog adoption rates can be increased while decreasing the amount of euthanized pets through a comfortable, stress and anxiety free, full service canine facility.

Whitney Garnier

Whitney Garnier
Thesis statement: An artist residency in the growing art district of Wedgewood-Houston provides emerging artists a unique living and working space for a four-week period. Artists are able gain experience working and networking with other fellow artists and the public while working towards a community-based project. The facility’s space will maximize creativity and production by providing a highly adaptable and inspirational environment.

Catherine Soudoplatoff 2

Catherine Soudoplatoff

Catherine Soudoplatoff
Thesis statement: Sustainable floating fine art studios for the students at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville, Tennessee offer a poetic, innovative and flexible solution: an ultimate calling card for attracting talented students and raising Watkins’ reputation as a premier art school.

Watkins Interior Design students are consistently recognized for their creativity and professsionalism in both academic competitions and community involvement, winning student competitions at the annual conference of the Tennessee Chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) and the chapter’s top honor, the Jane D. Reagor Award, for outstanding interior design student in the state. Alumni of the program can be found in commercial, residential, hotel, restaurant, healthcare and furniture design.

About the program

The Watkins Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design program promotes a curriculum intended to educate the student who is intent on a professional career as a registered interior designer with strong links to the professional communities that are shaping the twenty-first century. 

Alumnus Justin Orton  checks out a senior project

Alumnus Justin Orton checks out a senior project

Students who earn the BFA degree will possess professional presentation techniques and technical skills, will be capable of creating innovative designs, analyze and problem solve, and understand the application of appropriate material use and code requirements. Courses offered within the interior design major encourage the student to develop imaginative, responsible solutions to problems created by social needs and economic constraints, as well as the material and physical limitations of the built environment. The integration of fine art classes elevates the student’s ability to develop resourceful responses and further balances the increasing demands of technology. Watkins’ Interior Design program is accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), recognizing that the standards and education given are of the highest quality.

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Click to enlarge

Commencement To Feature Noted Arts Executive Karen P. Moynahan on May 16

Posted on: May 5th, 2015 by Caroline Davis

Karen P. Moynahan, one of the nation’s most accomplished arts executives in higher education, will be the keynote speaker for Watkins College of Art, Design & Film’s 2015 Commencement on Saturday, May 16. The graduation ceremonies will be held at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, 154 Fifth Avenue North, at 2 p.m., and the public is invited.

Karen P. Moynahan

Karen P. Moynahan

Ms. Moynahan is executive director of four independent and autonomous accrediting organizations–the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Schools of Theatre, and the National Association of Schools of Dance­–that work with more than 1,300 postsecondary institutions and programs throughout the United States by offering the service of discipline-specific peer review. She also oversees and manages the Higher Education Arts Data Services project, a joint effort of the four organizations to provide comprehensive management data on the arts in higher education.

Ellen L. Meyer, president of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, described Ms. Moynahan as “a tireless champion of the arts with an unrivaled view of the interconnectedness of the disciplines of art, design, film, music, theatre and dance.”

Based in Reston, Virginia, Ms. Moynahan is a trustee and the executive director of the Council of Arts Accrediting Associations, a forum for policy discussions regarding the arts, education, and accreditation. She also serves as the executive director of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Precollegiate Arts Schools, a body established to review and accredit schools and programs providing non-degree instruction in the arts disciplines to children, youth, and adults. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. A member of the advisory board of Arts Education Policy Review, Ms. Moynahan consults regularly with specialized and regional accrediting bodies; state and federal offices; higher education and arts organizations; international institutions seeking information or assistance; and students, parents and the public regarding the work of the arts accrediting organizations and their programs.

After a welcome from Watkins President Meyer, Ms. Moynahan will deliver the Commencement address. Following her remarks, Vice President for Academic Affairs Joy McKenzie will present BFA, BA and Certificate candidates in art, film, fine art, graphic design, interior design and photography, and Samuel E. Stumpf, Jr., chair of the Watkins Board of Trustees, will confer the degrees and certificates.

The Class of 2015 will be the last to graduate under the leadership of President Meyer, who is retiring July 31 after seven years in office. Ms. Meyer began her work as the institution’s 15th president on August 1, 2008. Under her energetic leadership, she has led Watkins to a place of recognition and prestige among the best colleges of art in the country.

Commencement 2013 feature pic WwebAchievements include the realization of a decade-long goal of regional accreditation of the college through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC, in 2010) and re-accreditation of the Department of Interior Design by Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), the national accrediting agency for art and design and art and design-related disciplines. In 2011, Watkins gained acceptance into the prestigious Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), a consortium of 43 leading visual arts colleges in the United States and Canada.

Under President Meyer’s guidance, community partnerships expanded, the campus itself experienced significant transformation, and academic standards have consistently been raised in Watkins’ BFA degree programs in Film, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Photography, BA in Art, and Certificate in Film and (added 2013) in Interior Design. Notably, in the midst of a national economic downturn, Watkins has remained fiscally sound, achieved high-level fundraising, and established a professional admissions office with increasingly sophisticated student recruitment efforts.

The historic Downtown Presbyterian Church, a national landmark noted for its Egyptian Revival motif, is located at 154 5th Avenue North (corner of 5th and Church Street).

Watkins Visiting Artists Series Concludes May 1 with Artist/Activist Ashley Hunt

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by Caroline Davis

The artist, activist and filmmaker Ashley Hunt—who merges art and politics in work concerned with questions of institutional power—will speak at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film on Friday, May 1, as part of the Watkins Visiting Artists Series.

The presentation, which begins at 6:00 p.m. in the Watkins Theater, is free and the public is invited. The Watkins Visiting Artists Series is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

(Hunt’s visit was previously announced for 2/19, but severe winter weather forced the rescheduling.)

AshleyHunt headshot WwebOver the past 15 years, through various projects employing video, photography, mapping and writing, Hunt has focused on ways people understand, respond to and conceive of themselves within systems of power. Rather than seeing art and activism as distinct pursuits, he approaches them as complementary, drawing upon social movements and contemporary cultural theory as his work addresses important trends towards documentary and participatory practices in contemporary art.

“Ashley Hunt has addressed some of the most pressing social issues of our era, and he has done so with political savvy and artistic sophistication,” said Tom Williams, assistant professor of art history at Watkins. “His work offers a permanent rebuke to anyone who still believes that the merger of art and politics means the triumph of politics over art.”

About Ashley Hunt

Ashley Hunt has played the role of an activist-journalist in his investigations of power and politics in contemporary society, using video, photography, mapping and writing to engage contemporary social movements and public discourse. His work addresses systems that enable certain people to accumulate power and those that disempower others.

Among his most celebrated works are his ongoing video series on the prison system, entitled The Corrections Documentary Project (and which includes footage he filmed in Tennessee), and his Prison Maps.

AshleyHunt-6 scribble man Wweb

In The Corrections Documentary Project, Hunt investigates the institution of the prison and, more specifically, how incarceration helps structure and preserve racial and economic divisions within society. A 2001 film Corrections (57 minutes) looks at the privatization of the prison system, exposing the conflict between for-profit corporations focused on pleasing investors and the communities that must deal with the consequences of high incarceration rates. Probing further to explore links between political campaign strategies and the increasing penalties for nonviolent crimes, Hunt uncovers a complex system of desires and incentives that lie behind the growth of the American prison system.

Other investigations by Hunt have focused on community identity and the demise of welfare state institutions (Communograph), war and disaster capitalism (9 Scripts from a Nation at War, A World Map: in which we see…), documentary representations (As Flowers Turn Toward the Sun, Par Course A), and political activism (Undeliverable Address). His 2010 performance, Notes on the Emptying of a City, explored the first-person politics of being in New Orleans with a camera in the months following Hurricane Katrina, when he engaged with community activists to research the city’s refusal to evacuate the Orleans Parish Prison. His work has been screened and exhibited at the P.S.1/MOMA, the Tate Modern, the Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Atlanta. He was also included in Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany and the 3rd Bucharest Biennial. In 2007, Hunt collaborated with Sharon Hayes and other artists on 9 Scripts from a Nation at War, a project that has been the subject of a number of exhibitions internationally.

Ashley Hunt at TEDxCalArts, March 2013

Based in Los Angeles, Hunt is Co-Director of the Program in Photography and Media at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). He is an alumnus of the University of California at Irvine (BFA) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.

Hear Ashley Hunt at TEDxCalArts: Liveness, performance, and this exact place in time

Now in its fifth year, The Watkins Visiting Artists Series (VAS), with support from the Humanities Tennessee Grant Program, welcomes nationally and internationally recognized fine artists, designers, filmmakers, educators and critics to the campus and the community. Watkins full house 9561 RHQuaytman lecture 1.29.14 WwebThe guest artists, whose work crosses many disciplinary boundaries, give public presentations, sharing their expertise and perspectives on their careers and providing insight into issues facing contemporary artists and designers. The VAS offers the area’s cultural community a rare opportunity to engage the work and ideas of trendsetting visual artists, designers, filmmakers and intellectuals. The critically acclaimed initiative has not only brought a number of internationally renowned artists to Nashville—like first-time visitors Harrell Fletcher, R. H. Quaytman, David Hilliard, Jonathan Katz, Alec Soth and Artemio Rodriguez—but it has also invigorated the local art scene by introducing artists working in new media and performance—artists like Nick Briz, Jon Satrom and Liz Magic Laser (2013 New York Armory Artist)—and those expanding the parameters of traditional media and art practice—such as Chris Sickels, Deborah Luster (2013 Guggenheim Fellow) and Natalia Almada (2013 MacArthur Fellow).

The 2015 Watkins VAS is a three-lecture initiative, with letterer/illustrator Jessica Hische on January 22 and multiple-media artist/writer Martha Rosler on April 16.

Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot. For more information, including updates to programming and future series guests, visit this website or call 615-383-4848.

ht_colorFounded in 1973, Humanities Tennessee is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, civil discourse, and an appreciation of history, diversity, and community among Tennesseans. Statewide programs include the annual Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word℠, the Appalachian and Tennessee Young Writers’ Workshops, a variety of History & Culture programs, Grants & Awards for teachers and community, among many others.

Click to enlarge evite

Click to enlarge evite


Watkins Concludes BFA Thesis Series with Luisiana Mera, Weng Tze Yang and Zack Rafuls on May 7

Posted on: April 14th, 2015 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents fine art and photography from Luisiana Mera (Añoranza), Weng Tze Yang (Idle Light) and Zack Rafuls (Props for a Film), opening Thursday, May 7, with a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The final of four installments in the Spring 2015 BFA Senior Thesis Exhibition series, the triple show will be on display in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery through May 18.

Luisiana Mera, self portrait (closeup)

Luisiana Mera, self portrait (closeup)

Luisiana Mera, Panama City, Panama –
BFA in Fine Art
Show title: Añoranza (charcoal on paper, oil paint on canvas)

Luisiana Mera works with charcoal to create delicately rendered drawings that are tactile, velvety and dreamlike. The medium and the slow process support the intent of the drawing: building and erasing with charcoal mimic the idea of building a complex, intimate image. Her artistic practice is centered on a critical investigation of the body and human psychological moments. She reflects on social and cultural conventions, paying close attention to portraying the fragile, particular details that distinguish each person, objects and places. These details such as moles, scars, wrinkles and textures highlight the history and subjective reading of the individual. Extended and concentrated looking, versus merely seeing, encourages more complex meditations on the human condition and its environment.

Born and reared in Panama City, Panama, Mera moved to the U.S. as a teen, and was graduated from Nashville School of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited extensively on campus and at Cheekwood, Cummins Station and WAG (Watkins Arcade Gallery). She has won multiple awards including the Robb Swaney Prize for Excellence in Visual Expression and first place at the Currey Juried Student Exhibition; this past fall her work was selected for inclusion in INDA 9 (9th International Drawing Annual), a competitive publication of works of contemporary drawing.

Weng Tze Yang, untitled

Weng Tze Yang, untitled

Weng Tze Yang, Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia –
BFA in Photography
Show title: Idle Light (photographs with mixed media, photo installations)

A photographer who works with abstract photographs and installations, Weng Tze Yang seeks to bring in the act of contemplation into the viewing experience for her audience. Her photographs are abstract with elements of familiarities; the subtle shades of colors, the play of shadows and light creates a poem that resembles her view of spaces. She also emphasizes on the physicality of the materials she uses for her work as they affect how she display them in the gallery. By creating installations using her photographs, she expresses her own reality through her work, hoping that her viewers will be able to do so, engaging their own perceptions and thoughts with her images.

Yang, who also has an interest in art history, has exhibited off-campus at WAG (Watkins Arcade Gallery), COOP, Fort Houston, Nostos Gallery and at the University of the South’s Carlos Gallery, and served as an exhibition intern at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.

Zack Rafuls, "All of My Black Clothes in a Pile"

Zack Rafuls, “All of My Black Clothes in a Pile”

Zack Rafuls, Chattanooga, TN –
BFA in Fine Art
Show title: Props for a Film (soft sculpture, screen-printing, tropical plant, conceptual sound, bisque-fired ceramic, large-scale drawing

Zack Rafuls is a maker of art objects with an interdisciplinary practice that incorporates a wide-range of media and modes of making. A native of Miami, Florida, he moved to Tennessee in his early teens and to Nashville in 2011. His work – primarily sculpture, installation, painting, printmaking and video – has been exhibited at Ground Floor Gallery, the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery at Watkins, Track One, Cummins Station, and in solo and group shows at WAG (Watkins Arcade Gallery); he is currently co-curator at the Packing Plant. Chair of the art collective Co. H, Zack has interned at Zeitgeist Gallery and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Props for a Film presents a series of eclectic objects that function as components to a fragmented, semi-autobiographical narrative. At the heart of the work is a preoccupation with the appropriation of image as a means to construct a counter-cultural identity.

Click to enlarge evite

Click to enlarge evite

The exhibitions and reception are free and the public is invited. Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot.

The Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery is located in the main academic building on the Watkins campus. Regular Currey Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 2 to 4 p.m.

Mati Hays and Blake Holland Take ‘Victory Laps’ at WAG’s May 2 show

Posted on: April 13th, 2015 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents Victory Laps, an exhibition by Watkins students Mati Hays and Blake Holland, at its downtown gallery WAG during the May 2 edition of the First Saturday Art Crawl.

Victory Laps – integrating sculpture, photography, and video – examines anxieties about youth. While Mati (a Fine Art sophomore) seeks power in claiming the future, Blake (a senior in the Film School) finds control in grounding his past. By pulling from the past and framing the future, the work acts as a stand-in for their understanding of the present, with each artist allotting objects a great amount of responsibility.

Mati Hays, "Proud of You"

Mati Hays, “Proud of You”

While their processes are different in approach, through similar interests, perspectives and fixations, they both produce work that responds to one another on a literal and visceral level. By placing their respective works within a shared space, the crossing of past and future reflects the influence they have on each other.

As a filmmaker, Blake approaches art making in the same way he approaches story telling. Fully understanding the danger this poses, he attempts to reduce his own life into a manageable narrative by toying with ritual, contextualizing objects, and examining lineage.

Addressing the obsession she has with her future, Mati plays with the association of brands and status, using materials that inherently reflect ideals of luxury and uniformity. With her background in fashion and design, these access points allow her work to speak through the visual language of her generation.

About the artists:

A sophomore at Watkins pursuing a BFA in Fine Art, Mati works in a variety of media such as installation, sculpture, video, photography, fashion and product design. Her most recent involvements have been in the Nashville fashion community, interning for local designers, styling, and working for high-end boutiques throughout the city. Mati will continue her college career at Parsons The New School for Design in New York in the fall.

Blake Holland, "Buzz (Just For You)"

Blake Holland, “Buzz (Just For You)”

Blake is a senior in The Film School, with concentrations in directing and screenwriting. Two of his films have been accepted into the Nashville Film Festival as part of the Tennessee Shorts section: “Rust” (2014) and “Summer Haze” (2015). As a council member of the art collective Co. H, he has exhibited work at the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery at Watkins, Fort Houston, and WAG. Holland works as an editor and videographer on documentary projects with Crackerfarm, and makes music as Spring Blake.

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 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.

Graphic Design Seniors Take Their “SkillShot” in April 30 Portfolio Showcase at Anode

Posted on: April 2nd, 2015 by Caroline Davis

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film presents the Senior Graphic Design Exhibition “SkillShot,” featuring work by Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design degree candidates Holly Carden, Jay Greer, Melissa Mayhew and Jill Thompson, on Thursday, April 30, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Anode in East Nashville.

Click to enlarge evite

Click to enlarge evite

The one-night-only portfolio showcase, which is free and open to the public, will introduce to the community four outstanding graphic designers and illustrators through a showcase of print and multimedia projects in advertising, packaging, branding and identity, digital publishing and illustration.

Each graduating class of graphic designers at Watkins chooses a presentation theme for their group BFA show, and this year’s concept reflects that “Just like pinball, excellent design requires a careful balance of luck, skill and wizardry.”

“The Spring 2015 class is a small but potent group of designers, said Jim Valosik (Watkins ’07), award-winning art/creative director and adjunct instructor in senior portfolio. “In addition to being amazing people to enter the workforce, they come with some serious design and Illustration chops — their talent level is as high as their professionalism.”

Holly Carden (Smyrna, TN) –

Holly Carden, “Sad Turtle”

Originally from Buckley, North Wales, Holly will present high-detail illustrations (pen & ink, watercolor, pencil) used in packaging design, hand-constructed product mockups, advertising campaigns, and more.

Over the course of her experience at Watkins, Holly’s illustration work has been juried into multiple exhibitions and recognized with honors such as the Robb Swaney Prize for Visual Excellence and a National Student Addy Award. Upon graduating, Holly intends to focus on growing her freelance illustration business and becoming a bigger part of Nashville’s thriving art and design community.

Jay Greer (Collierville, TN) –


Jay Greer, “Robo-Rabitt”

Bizarre branding meets face-melting illustration in my fun and freaky portfolio; low-brow meets high-culture, so there’s a little something for everyone. Illustration, advertising, typography, and brand storytelling will all share the spotlight in this particular show.”

Recognized and exhibited in a number of shows throughout his time at Watkins, Jay is as busy in the business of the design world as he is in the local low-brow art scene. Jay enjoys wielding the digital pen when it comes to illustration and typography, although he has a passion for the old school with ink, paint, and markers always on hand. After graduation, Jay hopes to give the advertising world a shot while also growing his freelance design business.

Melissa Mayhew, Student Addys poster

Melissa Mayhew, Student Addys poster

Melissa Mayhew (Lawrence, KS)

Driven by color and inspired by nature, Melissa is excited to collaborate with other designers and help people achieve their creative vision. When she isn’t painting or drawing, Melissa loves to read, learn, and travel.

Jill S. Thompson (Pulaski, TN) –

jillthompson_REMGigPoster Wweb

Jill S. Thompson, R.E.M gig poster

Jill is a graphic designer who incorporates illustration and printmaking into her work. She has experience managing all aspects of production, from concept-generation to coordinating with vendors for creation of the final product. Jill has designed logos, flyers, email blasts, digital conference materials, infographics, and even large-scale banners.

For more information, visit show website

The award-winning creative agency Anode Inc. is located at 926 Main Street/37206 in East Nashville (near the corner at McFerrin Avenue).

Watkins Graphic Design students and alumni are consistently among the most honored in the country through their submissions to regional, national and international advertising design competitions, particularly in the student and professional categories of the ADDY Awards (hosted by the American Advertising Federation). At the 2015 Nashville Student ADDYs,

Holly Carden, "Groaty"

Holly Carden, “Groaty”

Watkins won more top awards than any other school competing (for the third consecutive year), this year claiming 12 Golds, 11 Silvers, two of four Judge’s Choice honors and Best in Show. In the next-level District competition, against schools from five states, Watkins students again won big, claiming four Golds and four Silvers.

Jill S. Thompson, "Ken"

Jill S. Thompson, “Ken”

Watkins students continue to blanket Nashville and the region with their intelligence, visual wit and creativity through unique opportunities with several beloved Nashville community events. In the past few years, their talents have been chosen to promote signature happenings such as the American Artisan Festival, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, Music City Hot Chicken Festival, Nashville Sister Cities Program, Nashville Symphony and Nashville Opera performances, and Murfreesboro’s JazzFest, as well as the Nashville Scene’s “Best of Nashville” cover art.

About the program
The Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design at Watkins College begins with a strong foundation in the basic principles and elements of design and typography. The curriculum then builds incomplexity until students graduate with a professional, high quality, entry-level portfolio. Coursework effectively covers art, design, typography, technology, professional practices and the history of art and design. Small class sizes allow for each student to have individual consultations with faculty at every stage of assigned projects. Graphic design electives, including internships with area advertising and design agencies, enhance each student’s education.

Melissa Mayhew, "Dazed"

Melissa Mayhew, “Dazed”

The curriculum culminates in the capstone course, Senior Portfolio Development, where each graduating senior works with senior faculty to polish his/her portfolio. Finally, the graduating class, as a team, puts together a senior exhibition that features their portfolios.

Watkins Has “Designs on You” for The pARTy 2015!

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by Caroline Davis


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Watkins College of Art, Design & Film will host The pARTy, the school’s annual fundraising event, on Saturday, April 25, with the 2015 edition returning to the striking contemporary art space OZ Arts Nashville.

pARTy chairs Kandace Wigington and Cathy Holland, Metro Nashville Airport Authority’s Rob Wigington and Watkins President Ellen Meyer

Leading the planning are event chairs Cathy Holland and Kandace Wigington. The pARTy, which celebrates the creative in Watkins students and the Nashville community, includes a 6 p.m. cocktail reception, dinner from The Chef and I, and a silent auction as well as a live auction segment featuring travel packages to Italy, Santa Fe, and New York.  Chef and I hires logo WwebReflecting the art and design theme, The Chef and I’s gourmet menu will include a chARTcuterie display and dessert tARTs.

Teri Reid

Teri Reid

Acclaimed pianist/vocalist/bandleader Teri Reid — renowned for her vast and eclectic range of material — will provide music for The pARTY, thanks to sponsorship by Arts at the Airport.

The pARTy benefits the education and outreach programs of the independent, nonprofit, four-year baccalaureate college, now in its 130th year of service and inspiration to the community. Part of an elite consortium of 41 art and design colleges across the country and Canada, Watkins is a regionally and nationally accredited college of the visual arts, granting BFA degrees in film, fine art, graphic design, interior design and photography, a BA in art, and certificates in film and in interior design. Watkins also offers affordable classes, workshops and camps for youth and adults through its Community Education department.

Tickets to The pARTy are $250 per person, and invitations will be mailed in early March. To learn more or request an invitation, visit this page or or contact Michelle Klaes,  615.277.7402.

Thanks to:

  • Gold Program pARTner: SunTrust Foundation;
  • Silver sponsors: AmSurg, HCA/TriStar Health and KPMG LLC;
  • Bronze sponsors: McCarthy Jones & Woodard LLC; Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority/Arts at the Airport; Nashville Carpet Center/Hunt Oliver; Neal & Harwell, PLC; OZ Arts Nashville and Studio 8 Design/Matt Taylor, Architect;
  • Pewter sponsor: Beth Scott Clayton Amos, LUTCF, CLTC, Insurance & Financial Services.
  • Lipman Brothers, LLC and R.S. Lipman Company for wine, spirits and beer.

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Click to learn more about these incredible adventures!

az110525lc-798.jpgArt and Gastronomy Along the Via Emilia 

Enjoy the glorious art, wine and cuisine of Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy: Bologna’s Morandi Museum and the Market District  ● Tour and tasting at Parmigiano Reggiano factory ● Guided tour of Parma including the frescoes of Correggio ● Modena’s Ferrari Museum • Ravenna’s glorious Byzantine mosaics • Four-star palazzo hotels in Bologna and Ravenna • Read NY Times’ Ravenna feature

Santa Fe mountains WwebSanta Fe: The City Different

Accommodations at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa ● El Rito Studio Tour ● Behind-the-scenes tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s House and Studio in  ●  Santa Fe Railyard Farmers Market and Artisans Market ● Museum of International Folk Art ● Car rental for one day

New Whitney WwebNew York City Art & Design

Hotel Carlton ●  Stunning new Whitney Museum of America Art (opening May 1) ● Private guided tours of the Art Galleries of Chelsea and the Frick • Dinner at Chef Chris Jaeckle’s All’onda in Greenwich Village

New York Times feature on the Whitney: “Made for America”

Click to see the pARTy 2015 Silent Auction list

Support and sponsorship from these businesses and individuals are truly the “Life of the pARTy!”

Gold Program pARTner:

SunTrust horiz logo Wweb



Silver sponsors:

silver sponsors


 Bronze sponsors:







Special Thanks





Pewter sponsor:

BethScottClaytonAmos_logo cr Wweb



Wine, spirits and beer courtesy of Lipman Brothers, LLC and R.S. Lipman Company

Lipman Brothers logo Wweb




Oz_LogoFinal_6.30.14 smallOZ Arts Nashville is located at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle, near the John C. Tune Airport ( The venue, boasting a grand salon, patio lounge, several gallery and garden spaces, and one of the world’s largest walk-in cigar humidors, has established itself as a magnet for world-class talents through its innovative visual and performing arts programming.