Client: Donelson Public Library, Metro Arts, and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville
Location: Donelson, TN, United States
Completion date: 2024
Artwork budget: $150,000
Artist, Sculptor, Project Management and Fabrication
Amber Lelli Art
Structural Metal Fabrication
Router Machinist for Wave Components
Library Intermediary Management
Public Art Management
Anne-Leslie Owens and Jesse Ross
Metro Arts - Nashville
RBA Structural Engineering
This contemporary sculpture (28’ L x 17’ H x 5’ D) brings the beauty of Tennessee’s ecosystem inside the library, including flora + fauna, landmass, and waterfall + river. Its chromed landscape consists of animals and plants that are native to Tennessee. Individual waves of water come together to make a formation representing the Cumberland River, an iconic landmark and historic pathway. The artwork will be installed in a 2-story space at the back of the library, viewable inside from both floors and entirely from outside. The chrome-on-chrome effect of the animals/plants creates a finder’s game, with fun to be had for children seeing their reflection morphed amongst the flowers. Viewed on the second floor, plants range in height from 1-7 feet, giving a whimsical feeling of being in a larger-than-life landscape. The river’s pattern of overlapping depths and directions creates the feeling of moving water directly overhead on the first floor. The bottom of the artwork has a reflective surface that adds visual height to the space below and reflects the natural light and sky. For the waves, blue gradient rods create visual movement and mimic a waterfall, while the blue ombre continues into the river components and creates a bridge between the first and second floor experiences.
• Create a site-specific, permanent artwork of a significant scale that will be a landmark.
• Honor the history of Donelson while celebrating its past and future.
• Involve businesses and residents in the design process.
• The public artwork has a strong daytime and nighttime presence.
• Reflecting Metro Arts’ commitment to shared civic spaces that are open to everyone and dedicated to the community’s vision, identity and purposes.
All of the clients project goal request where met with this design. We engaged the city with four different community engagement events and created a design in response to what they felt represented our city best. The design captures inclusion, aligns with the architectural vision, elevates the space, and highlights this regions history in a variety of ways through landmarks such as the Cumberland River, to the individual native plants chosen that have historical ties to native tribes, pioneers, and current day recreation. It has dedicated nighttime lighting, and its massive scale provides for a landmark day and night experience.
After the commission award, I collaborated with city council members, Metro Arts, and Library representatives to engaged with Donelson residents and businesses through local activities and community engagement events, including the Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market, Donelson Branch Library’s Family Story Time, and a McGavock High School art class. In response, I designed a sculpture highlighting the outdoors with nods to community and history. After design inception, I collaborated with digital artist to create renderings and C.A.D fabrication files. Metro Arts, Messer Construction, Hastings Architecture, Capital Projects, RBA Structural Engineers, and myself engaged in multiple levels of coordination to integrate the sculptures structural, lighting, and installation needs into the simultaneous construction of the new library throughout a two year process. As a sculptor, I assembled a team of fabricators to both take on and assist me in the physical creation of the sculpture. The five component categories of the sculpture involved separate fabrication processes, materials, and different team members to come together to sculpt and assemble this massive sculpture of 600 waves, 600 rods, 21 large scale flowers, 4 structural joist, 1 structural plate, 14 animals, and 1 huge landmass.
Overall, this landmark sculpture provides a beautiful experience from all three viewing locations. It complements the library, and its contemporary and modern aesthetic will be timeless and elegant for years to come. It serves Donelson by providing educational opportunities and capturing parts of its community, green space, landmarks, and imagination. With the Library’s LEED Gold Certification this sculpture is a visual representation as to why we strive to go Green and what the building's efforts are aiming to preserve and protect, which is our planet's environment for generations.