Nashville Ballet’s upcoming performance of Attitude, Feb. 13-15 at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center combines every element of Nashville’s talented arts community on stage in the wildly popular…but the flowers have yet to come from 2013. It includes dance from Nashville Ballet professional dancers, live music from popular singer/songwriter Matthew Perryman Jones, choreography from nationally acclaimed choreographer Gina Patterson and live on-state painting from local visual artist Emily Leonard. With this daring combination of art, Attitude is a microcosm of Nashville’s diverse artistic offerings all on stage together.

We spoke with visual artist, Emily Leonard, about revisiting the…but the flowers have yet to come collaboration and how she is approaching this unique experience differently than she did the first time. As a local resident, Leonard is a familiar face around the Nashville’s arts community. She is represented by The Rymer Gallery in Downtown Nashville, where she currently has several pieces on display.

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Emily Leonard, photograph by Heidi Ross

Q. This will be the second presentation of …but the flowers have yet to come. Are you approaching it in a different way than the first time?

Emily Leonard (EL): Logistically, there are some changes. The 2013 performance was the first time I’ve ever made a 22 foot long painting at all, much less on stage and in 38 minutes! I think I better understand now how to get the piece further to completion in this short time period… Bigger brushes and more planning! The image itself will be different this year as well. It is an image choreographer Gina Patterson and I both feel represents the trajectory of the piece in a new way.

Q. As a visual artist, how does the music and choreography influence your creative process? How do you approach this project differently than your usual artwork?

EL: My favorite part of this project is the time I get to spend in the rehearsal studio – watching Gina work with the dancers, noting the way they move and take direction, letting myself go deeper into the music. This is where and when the colors and feeling of the piece really take shape for me.

Q. What is the most rewarding part of the project? The most challenging?

EL: Certainly, it is the proximity to dance. I am forever fascinated and inspired by the art form. I’ve always wished I were a dancer, so I feel like I get to at least pretend it the wish came true for a few days.

Honestly, the nature of collaboration has been a challenge for me, especially after 16 years of working alone in the studio every day. I’m so grateful to this project for the chance to open up to other artists and exercise those collaborative muscles.

Q. What would you like people to take away from the …but the flowers have yet to come?

EL: On an emotional level, I want them to see beauty and be moved by it in a way that deepens their daily life. Many people told me they cried during the 2013 performance. It means so much to know that the piece holds that kind of power. But on a literal level, I want them to take away a part of the painting!

Q. What will happen to the piece following the performance?

EL: You can take it home with you! We are going to parcel it up and sell it off, to benefit the ballet. We will start pre-selling the panels on February 7. Because of the nature of the piece (the fact that I’m essentially creating it in 3 nights onstage), the price point is much lower than my studio paintings of the same size. By buying one of these panels, you get to watch your portion of the painting be created on stage, support the ballet, support the artist, and acquire a unique piece of artwork that holds the memory of the dance.


You can also MEET the artist on Saturday, February 7 during Downtown Nashville’s First Saturday Art Crawl at The Rymer Gallery from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. as she showcases her art and talks about her process and collaboration with Nashville Ballet.

Read our story from the print magazine about Attitude online now.

For more about Emily Leonard and to purchase the art after the performance visit her website.

Click the image below for tickets and more information. 

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