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January 13, 2011

Caldwell Art Installed At The Tennessee Residence

Relief sculpture created from repurposed materials on display in Conservation Hall

NASHVILLE - - The resourceful talents of Nashville craft artist Ben Caldwell has produced an innovative work of art that has been installed in Conservation Hall at The Tennessee Residence.  “Old Glory,” a 6 ft. x 9 ft. replica of the American flag was created from 80-year-old copper that once served as gutters and downspouts on the home for Tennessee’s first family removed during restoration of the Tennessee Residence. 

The installation of the metal relief sculpture by Caldwell is a fitting departing gift to the State of Tennessee from Gov. Phil Bredesen and First Lady Andrea Conte that involved Tennessee artists.  The first lady has worked closely with the Tennessee Arts Commission to engage artists in the imaginative use of materials recovered from the house and grounds during the restoration process.

“This is another example of repurposing items into permanent inspired works of art that will become part of the home’s history,” said First Lady Andrea Conte. “These materials could have been thrown away, but now they have been made into beautiful pieces of art.”

While completing a project for the first lady, Caldwell discovered the copper and was inspired to design a piece that replicated the American flag.   “When I saw the copper gutters, which were eight to ten inches wide, I noticed some had patina-ed red and some bluish and some white, so the forms and colors immediately communicated a flag to me,” said Caldwell. “The distressed copper has such tremendous character and I didn’t want to disturb the natural patina.  With as little hammering as possible, I started the process to  straighten the pieces to begin scraping down years of industrial adhesives that had been applied to the metal. After I riveted the pieces together alternating the patina colors and made white stars from what was the former downspout of the drainage system.  It just all came together.”

Through an on-going partnership with the First Lady’s office, the Tennessee Arts Commission has managed a diversity of artistic projects that have contributed to the restoration and the creative use of repurposed materials. “This partnership has allowed  numerous Tennessee artists in all disciplines to work in new and challenging directions that has benefited the state and the environment,” said Rich Boyd, executive director of the Tennessee Arts Commission. “It has been exciting to see these discarded materials made into art that will be viewed by guests to The Tennessee Residence.”
Slate tiles that were removed when a new roof was installed were used by artist Sherri Warner Hunter from Bell Buckle to create “In The Presence of Presents,” the 9 foot mosaic sculpture in the glass-walled atrium garden.  Textile artists created wall hangings and quilts from old window treatments and seven sculptors created works of art from large pieces of Tennessee limestone removed from under the residence.  Glass sculpture was created from old window panes and decorative wood-turned items grace the interiors of  the residence Tennessee’s first family that were created from trees removed from the property.  The arts community is well represented and on display at The Tennessee Residence.

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