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Nashville Recalls May 2010 Floods with Watermarks Public Art Collection Serves As Testaments to Community Spirit

Jennifer Cole


May 1, 2013 Metro Arts

(615) 862-6733

Greg Bailey


(615) 248-8202

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Nashville remembers the historic floods that swept through the city in 2010, six public art pieces, the Watermarks collection, will stand as permanent testament to the impact of these floods and the spirited response that followed them.

Throughout May and early June, the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts) and Metropolitan Council members will dedicate the Watermarks public art gallery in communities hardest hit by the May 2010 floods: Antioch, Bellevue,Bordeaux/West Hamilton, Delray, East Nashville/S. Inglewood and Pennington Bend/Donelson.

Each of the six pieces are based on a series of community conversations between the selected artists and residents in each neighborhood who shared their personal stories of the May floods to shape a diverse range of designs that form Watermarks.

“Through the Watermarks collection, we honor the lives and homes lost with the creation of quiet spaces within our parks to reflect, remember and grieve,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said. “This art is a lasting tribute to how we joined hands to help friends, neighbors and even strangers during the flooding and recovery. These sacred spaces are about renewal and will serve as a place to evoke the resilience of our fellow Nashvillians.”

Part of the dedication includes the debut of a newly created, interactive school curriculum, authored by Ted Edinger, a Tulip Grove Elementary School teacher. The K-5 Standards-Based classroom guide includes background material, images and classroom art activities that focus on the idea of neighborhood identity and response—one of the central ideas behind the Watermarks project.

“This public art can help us create a sense of pride in place and a sense of renewal of spirit,” said Jennifer Cole, Metro Arts executive director. “We can use Watermarks as a way to heal, by leaving and the works themselves tell a story of recovery and community strength.”

The schedule for the individual dedication ceremonies includes the following events:

TBD. at the Antioch Community Center, 5023 Blue Hole Road: Metro Council members Duane Dominy and Jacobia Dowell dedicate Michael Allison’s “Liquid 615,” a work of240 hand-blown glass drops hanging in two rows from galvanized silver pipes attached to the community center building. Allison described the drops as representing flood water and tears, while the galvanized metal represents the bond that united Antioch in the disaster’s aftermath.

Sunday, May 12 at 1:30 p.m. at Shelby Bottoms Park, 1900 Davidson St.: Metro Councilman Peter Westerholm will host the dedication ceremony for Christopher Fennell’s “Tool Fire,” a construction of hand tools welded together and painted black over an existing fire pit. Fennell’s work was inspired by stories of neighbors who helped clear houses of wet drywall and carpet using any tools they could find.

Sunday, May 12 at 2:30 p.m. at Two Rivers Park, 2320 Two Rivers Parkway: Metro Councilman Phil Claiborne dedicates Derek Coté’s “Pier,” a work that serves as benches where visitors can stop and reflect on the beauty and physical presence of the Cumberland River. The benches sit on a slope above the river, providing a less obstructed view.

Wednesday, May 22 at 10 a.m. at Hartman Park, 2801 Tucker Road: Mayor Dean and Metro Councilman Frank Harrison dedicate Buddy Jackson’s “Emergence,” a sculpture of an African-American woman’s face emerging from the earth. Students from I. T. Creswell Arts Magnet Middle will join and learn about the public art process from Jackson as part of the ceremony. Jackson described the face as a symbol of every individual’s story of danger, loss, strength and determination.

Sunday, June 2 at 1:30 p.m. at Harpeth Knoll Park, 725 Harpeth Knoll Road: Metro Council members Sheri Weiner and Bo Mitchell dedicate Craig Nutt’s “Bench Mark,” a bench seat derived from maps of the flood’s path in Bellevue. A blue line atop the bench traces the riverbed of the Harpeth River as it winds through Bellevue.

Saturday, June 15 at 11:00 a.m. at West Park, 6105 Morrow Road: Metro Councilman Buddy Baker dedicates Lee and Betty Benson’s “Anchor in the Storm,” a work of wood,limestone boulder and anchor chain that ties West Park with the nearby Rogers Group Limestone Quarry. During the flood, a massive crevasse in a 500-footlimestone wall re channeled 700 billion gallons of flood waters from the community’s homes into the quarry.

For more information about Watermarks and to access the student guide, visit

About the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts)

The Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, a commission of the Metropolitan Nashville Government, provides leadership that stimulates and advances the arts to enrich the human experience for the community. Metro Arts receives operational support from the Tennessee Arts Commission, and additional information is available online at