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Metro Arts' Build Better Tables Honored Among Top Public Art Projects of 2018

6/14/2019
Emily Waltenbaugh

Citywide Exhibition that Focused on Foodways, Gentrification and Housing Named to Public Art Network Year in Review

Americans for the Arts today honored Build Better Tables, the inaugural temporary public art exhibition from the Metro Nashville Arts Commission (Metro Arts), as one of the best public art projects of 2018 through the Public Art Network Year in Review program. Chosen by public art experts, the roster of selected projects was unveiled this morning at Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Minneapolis. This is the 18th year that Americans for the Arts has recognized public art works.

Curated by Nicole J. Caruth, Build Better Tables featured projects from nine artists and collectives, all focused around the common themes of food access, food justice, and their connection to community, housing and gentrification. The diverse group of projects included seed libraries, a community bread oven, a “food rights bike,” and in-depth community conversations about how these issues impact Nashvillians.

“Build Better Tables was our first official temporary public art exhibition,” said Metro Arts Executive Director Caroline Vincent. “We were proud to bring multiple artists’ projects into Nashville neighborhoods and foster meaningful conversations about the way our city is growing and changing.”

“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate, and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns, and communities we inhabit and visit,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”

The projects selected for Year in Review will be displayed throughout Annual Convention. Two independent public art experts—artist Seitu Jones of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Aaron Ott, Curator of Public Art at Albirght Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York—discussed the trends they uncovered while examining hundreds of submissions in selecting this year’s choices for the most exemplary, innovative permanent or temporary public art works created or debuted in 2018.

The complete presentation, which includes photos and descriptions of all 50 projects, will be available for purchase through Americans for the Arts’ store.