by John Pitcher
The Harding Art Show has long been Harding Academy’s most important annual fundraiser. Thanks to this year’s featured artist, Ed Nash, the event will also be an innovative arts education project.
That’s because Nash, whose paintings are revered for their chiseled, elaborately textured beauty, will engage in a cooperative art project with the Academy’s students. Every child at the school, from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, will add their own dab of paint, their own idiosyncratic flourish to a large canvas. Nash will then take their efforts back to his Nashville studio to create a finished painting. He’ll transport that masterpiece back to the art show for display and sale.
“Ed Nash has never done a school-based art show before, so we were thrilled when he decided to do this project with the students,” event organizer Julie Infante told Nashville Arts Magazine. “It’s going to be such an amazing experience for the students, since all of them will get to touch this painting. And Nash will turn it into one of his vibrant and beautifully layered pieces.”
Nash is one of about 70 artists participating in the 42nd Annual Harding Art Show. The event is national in scope, with artists traveling from 13 states to participate. It’s also comprehensive in its offerings, with paintings, sculpture, woodwork, metalwork, photography, jewelry, and more, all on display and for sale. “Each artist brings about 25 works, so there will be a lot to see,” says Infante.
Lauren Dunn, another top artist who more or less “sculpts” her paintings, will also be at the show. A Mississippi Delta native, Dunn uses a palette knife to create textures and depth in her works. These paintings, an assortment of still lifes and landscapes, are bathed in warm hues and convey a sense of tranquility, of life lived at an unhurried pace.
This year’s artist roster also includes Suzanne Damrich, an Alabama native whose encaustic paintings fuse oil pigments with beeswax to create works of remarkable color and mysticism; Dara Burriss, a Texas-based artist who paints cloud-swirls of abstract color; and Ben Caldwell, a Nashville metalsmith who forges copper and silver into works of exqisite beauty and functionality.
The 42nd Annual Harding Art Show runs May 4–6 at Harding Academy, 170 Windsor Drive in Nashville. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 4; 1 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 5; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 6. The event is free but a $10 donation is suggested. Thursday and Friday evenings are for guests 21 and older, who can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Parking is at Immanuel Baptist Church, 222 Belle Meade Boulevard, with access to a complimentary shuttle. For more information, visit www.thehardingartshow.com.