Installation View: Mathilde Roussel's Anatomia Botanica at Cheekwood

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Mathilde Roussel is leaving in less than a week. She's been the artist in residence for Cheekwood's inaugural Martin Shallenberger residency program, and a visiting artist at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. In the past, I've been wary of Cheekwood's dedication to contemporary art, but there's never been a question about the beauty of the estate and its terrain — it is hands-down one of the best spots in Nashville. That's why Roussel's presence there is such a brilliant move on Cheekwood's part. They've managed to find an artist who is young, underexposed and ambitious — but also completely at home in Cheekwood's idyllic aesthetic. I'm really sad to see her go.

I took some pictures of Roussel's installation over the weekend, and I've posted them below. The "Lifes of Grass" sculptures are definitely the show-stoppers, but the carbon paper cut-outs and small pots of grass are also must-sees. The jars of human-plant fluids is interesting and well-conceived, and the red watercolor paintings are pretty but the exhibit would be just as strong without them. I was on my way to see "Homo Arboretum," the outdoor sculpture that the paintings are studies for, but I got rained out. I'll post some pictures of it when I go back, because it looked really great from a distance.

The plant-based work is meant to change and decay during the time it's at the gallery, so repeat viewing is the way to go. The exhibit is up through May 13, and I'll be writing a feature on Roussel in an upcoming issue of the Scene.

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