Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, the historic grounds on Nashville’s western edge that were once home to a dynastic wholesale grocery tycoon and now house botanical gardens and an art museum, lives as one of the area’s most inspiring and precisely designed locales.
It’s hard to walk Cheekwood’s acres, explore its mansion and consider its art galleries while remaining blasé. Manicured lawns and blooming flower beds are reminders of the everlasting splendor of nature. The Cheek family’s historic mansion offers architecture, furniture and ornamentation of a quality that isn’t seen anymore. And a rotating selection of contemporary art juxtaposes this all with dynamic and thoughtful interpretations of what creativity can mean today and in the future.
Cheekwood’s latest exhibition to accentuate its historic legacy through a new lens is called “Derived from the Decorative: Works by Faig Ahmed, Beth Lipman and Bouke de Vries.” It is a collection made particularly powerful in contrast to the antiquities that populate the Cheek’s former mansion.
“The exhibition consists of artists who take cues from decorative arts traditions yet invert the precepts by blurring the space between functional forms and art forms,” according to a description from Cheekwood. “The exhibition celebrates the work of a national and international group of artists who look at traditional decorative arts as a point of departure for contemporary creations. The artists in this show challenge the idea of historically informed notions of craft and provide a contemporary entry point into the space between fine and decorative art.”
Pieces include deconstructed glasswork by Beth Lipman, a multimedia artist from Philadelphia; fragmented china statues by de Vried, a Dutch conservator and fashion designer working in London; and Changes by Faig Ahmed, an artist from Azerbaijan who incorporates traditional carpet-weaving techniques with mind-bending alterations to create unique textile sculptures.
“Ahmed takes an object meant to be functional and positioned on a floor and presents it on the wall as one would a painting, removing the intended use most frequently associated with carpets,” per Cheekwood.
In Changes, Ahmed has produced a beautifully handmade, woolen carpet and warped its middle, inserting a new and disruptive perspective directly into one of the world’s most ancient functional art forms.
Ahmed’s work has been exhibited around the world and is held in collection at the Seattle Art Museum, the West Collection in Philadelphia, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and elsewhere. He represented Azerbaijan in the country’s pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale.
The Cheekwood Estate & Gardens are located in Belle Meade, 1200 Forrest Park Drive.