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Nashville’s Selfie

AK Llamas, The Tennessee State Museum and the People of Middle TN Create Nashville’s Largest 3D Public Art Installation

During the past 60 days, the Nashville-based artistic team of AK Llamas (made up of husband and wife team Alfonso and Kristin Llamas) has worked diligently to collect Selfies and adjectives from the citizens of Middle Tennessee. Under the aegis of the Tennessee State Museum and with with assistance from the people of Middle Tennessee, the artists have created their newest public art installation, entitled “#NashvilleSelfie.” The exhibit, which spans three city blocks in downtown Nashville (from the steps of Legislative Plaza at the top of Deaderick Street and Sixth Avenue to the steps of the Metro Courthouse Plaza at Deaderick Street and Third Avenue), incorporates 100 submitted Selfies, capturing what could be termed a collective “Selfie” of Music City.

In 2013, Oxford Dictionaries announced Selfie as its international Word of the Year. Selfies have transformed personal photography into a form of expression and are now a reflection of mainstream pop culture. As artists often do, AK Llamas uses their artwork to call attention to historical and current cultural trends.

Beginning on June 11, AK Llamas’ transformation of Deaderick Street will be on view as part of the artists’ ongoing series of work entitled, “The Anthropocene.” The 100 selfies and adjectives, printed on t-shirts strung on a 500-foot clothesline, incorporate the artists’ signature pink Amaranth (Tactical Flowers). They said the clothesline symbolizes man’s effect on nature (a main theme in “The Anthropocene” series), as well as the shifting of direct human contact and personal relationships toward less-direct forms of contact through online social media. In this 2014 Deaderick Street Installation, AK Llamas has taken Selfies offline and placed them “on-line” in the streets of Nashville.

“We really wanted to capture and freeze the faces of the community and the times we are living in. Selfies, social media, and crowd-funding are all a reflection of where we are right this minute as a society,” artist Alfonso Llamas said.

Crowd-funding through Indiegogo is exactly how the artists chose to underwrite this project, garnering financial support through social media networks. Nashville businesses The Chad James Group and PLA Media joined as the two primary presenting sponsors of the project, along with 60 other individual funders. Thanks to this showing of exceptional support, funding exceeded the intended goal by 94%, allowing the artists to also include Selfies from a selection of area citizens who benefit from programs offered by such non-profits as The Contributor newspaper, Conexion Americas and Poverty in the Arts. AK Llamas, the Tennessee State Museum and the Middle Tennessee community have come together for the second year to create the largest 3D public art installation in Nashville, TN.

“By joining us in this installation, the citizens of Nashville are not just saying that they want to see more public art, but that they are willing to take fundamental action to make it possible,” Kristin Llamas noted.

As part of their “Anthropocene” series, AK Llamas currently has an installation at the Nashville International Airport, which will remain on view until 2015. They have also installed other Amaranths throughout the U.S. and Europe. In “#NashvilleSelfie,” more than 1,000 hand-woven sculptural flowers serve as commentary on manufactured beautification and are intended to illustrate the symbolic suburban struggle between man and nature, according to the artists. Their use of a man-made flower in “The Anthropocene” series touches on themes of peace, beauty, growth, death, resilience, manufacturing, and agriculture.