COLORSCAPES | Cheekwood

Cheekwood Estate & Gardens, Nashville, TN
May 7-September 4, 2022

The contemporary understanding of color has a rich and complex history, whether through the histories of plant-based pigments like indigo, or the development of color theory through the discourses of Enlightenment-era writers, scientists, and naturalists. One of the most significant examples of the latter is the Scottish artist Patrick Syme’s Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours. First published in 1814 and based on the groundbreaking work of German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner, the book presented a taxonomic guide to the colors of the natural world and was a precursor to the modern Pantone system. Color—and more specifically the color classified in Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours—serves as the conceptual springboard for a vibrant site-specific takeover at the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens by the Chicago-based collaborative Luftwerk (Petra Bachmaier & Sean Gallero). In this unique context, COLORSCAPES will explore how the historic, yet fundamental scientific knowledge of color, perception, and nature can inform and connect us to the natural world today.

COLORSCAPES consists of a series of dynamic outdoor installations and gallery interventions. Set along a prescribed path, the exhibition unfolds across Cheekwood’s Cheekwood’s Bradford Robertson Color Garden, Arboretum Lawn, and Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden before moving up to the portico of the Historic Mansion & Museum and into its more intimately scaled galleries. Inside, Luftwerk has created a series of immersive color and light installations using botanical colors in combination with color changing light conditions that transform into abstracted, atmospheric experiences. Whether using natural pigments, exploring the phenomenon of light and color in the sky, or building on the histories explored in the gardens, the works installed in the galleries are informed by a holistic perception of the natural world and an interconnected ecology. “Unity through variety” is the mantra of this site-specific exhibition, which will offer a multi-layered journey that responds to and connects with the different gardens, architecture, and collections of Cheekwood.