Where Every Family Matters

Design for New Art at Donelson Library Unveiled

Artist Amber Lelli’s artwork beautifully integrates the local community and ecosystem. The artwork will be installed in early 2024.

Metro Arts has approved the design for an interior suspended sculpture at the forthcoming Donelson Branch of Nashville Public Library. Designed by local artist Amber Lelli, the artwork reflects the Donelson community and its green space, landmarks and imagination. The suspended artwork will be installed in a two-story space at the back of the library, viewable inside from both floors and outside through the back windows.

Last summer, Lelli engaged with Donelson residents through local activities, including the Hip Donelson Farmer’s Market, Donelson Branch Library’s Family Story Time and a McGavock High School art class. These conversations provided Lelli with valuable information that ultimately inspired this design.

“Over the past year, we have engaged with local residents and businesses to capture what best represents our city,” Lelli said. “In response, I have created a sculpture highlighting the outdoors with nods to community and history.”

Art representing the community

Each element of Lelli’s contemporary sculpture brings the beauty of Tennessee’s ecosystem inside the library, including flora and fauna; landmass; and waterfall and river. Its chromed landscape consists of animals and plants that are native to Tennessee. Individual waves of water come together to make a formation representing the Cumberland River, an iconic landmark and historic pathway.

“Lelli’s design is truly reflective of the Donelson community,” says District 15 Councilmember Jeff Syracuse. “It’s rooted in our history and the natural environment with a contemporary aesthetic that complements the modern look of the library.”

The design also thoughtfully engages the community from various viewing locations. The river’s pattern of overlapping depths and directions creates the feeling of moving water directly overhead on the first floor. Plants range in height from 1-7 feet, giving a whimsical feeling of being in a larger-than-life landscape. The bottom of the artwork has a reflective surface that adds visual height to the space below and reflects the natural light and sky.

“Upon entering the front doors of the building, library patrons will have a partial view of the suspended sculpture,” explains Anne-Leslie Owens, Public Art Collection Manager for Metro Arts. “We hope this will encourage them to move to the back of the library to fully experience this multi-themed artwork. Those venturing upstairs, can learn more about native species and test their ability to find them in the sculpture.”

The artwork will be installed in early 2024 with a dedication event to follow. Visit the Metro Arts blog for more design details and photos.



About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.