Nashville

Nashville

by Julia Nahley, Art Staff

Hey guys! My name is Julia Nahley and I am a senior double majoring in Studio Arts and Economics at VU. I am part of the art staff at TVR and have loved being involved in such a creative group of people that can celebrate the work of students passionate in art, poetry, and prose. I am a pre-architecture student, hoping to attend graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree next year. 

As a Nashville native and Vanderbilt student, it’s impossible not to look around and see how much the city is consistently growing and expanding, with around 80 people moving to Nashville each and every day. I’m interested in Nashville’s response to architecture and urban planning, and I have been able to use the city as the subject of my senior art show. Art majors put on a show in the gallery at the end of the school year, which has given me the perfect opportunity to explore and document the city through mediums like photography and installation. 

The focus of my current art projects involves highlighting many of the changes seen taking place in Nashville, paying particular attention to gentrification in areas such as North and East Nashville. Even after driving through many of the neighborhoods, some which felt the devastating effects of the tornados earlier this year, it’s clear that dramatic change is taking place and there’s not a street not undergoing some type of construction. Because of this, I’m interested in architectural elements and stylistic choices of Nashville residents over time, as well as comparisons of the interiors of homes destroyed, and the new ones built. I’m hoping to develop these projects and examine the kinds of people moving to and away from Nashville and their relationship to the changing city. 

Over break, I want to work with a contractor or construction company that will let me follow along and document the process of building new neighborhoods. I think it could be incredibly interesting to see the kinds of objects left behind or forgotten and juxtapose them with the new “tall skinny” homes popping up all over town. Where one house used to stand, two and three of these homes are replacing them in order to keep up with the amount of people moving each day. I am also surveying a few streets in North Nashville and asking about things like paint colors chosen for specific rooms in their homes and how these choices in colors and fabrics compare to those found in other types of homes, such as the ones just constructed. In many of the photos I’ve taken I’ve tried to demonstrate not only the contrasting styles of home but the negative space between new homes, which are often shrinking with each house built. I’d like to work with some of the new residents in the city and see how their lives look as their neighborhoods transform and see what other kinds of spaces may be shrinking. Maybe some of the “spaces” that are shrinking are not what you’d expect. How does a front yard that’s cut in half affect the family that lives inside? What does growing up in a neighborhood that’s constantly undergoing change look and feel like? These are a few questions I want to explore through my artwork. I am also hoping to work with some actual materials from sites where homes have been destroyed, leaving behind nothing but rubble until a brand-new residence replaces it. Here are a few photographs I’ve taken that document homes and areas undergoing dramatic modifications. They show the kinds of exterior styles coming to the city, specifically in North and East Nashville. If you’d like to see or learn more, please feel free to reach out! 

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The Vanderbilt Review 2020/21