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Belmont alumnus Andrew Harding brings chemistry background to sculpture

Currently available for viewing at the Leu Gallery, located inside of the Lila D. Bunch library, is “Ghost Structures,” a work in 3-D design by Andrew Harding.

A Tennessee native, Harding first came to Nashville in 1993 to attend Belmont University and graduated in 1997 with a degree in chemistry. However, he found his calling in ways entirely divergent from scientific study — his junior and senior years were characterized by his discovery of the art world and his passion for creating 3-D sculptures.

“After I graduated, I got a job in chemistry to make myself feel better about it all but quit after a year to pursue art full-time,” said Harding.

Harding’s career has grown significantly since his showing at Belmont in 1997 when he won third place in the student art show. He has had works displayed for more than a year at a gallery on Fifth Avenue as well as other shows around Nashville and will be featured in the Arts at the Airport show in 2016.

The gears for the show first started turning around a year ago when Katie Boatman, Belmont’s current director of galleries and exhibitions, became connected to Harding for the first time.

The Leu Gallery usually exhibits fairly renowned regional professionals. Not all of the art displayed is created by Belmont alumni, but some of it is. The art department was excited to showcase the work of someone who graduated from Belmont but not been an art major, said Boatman.

“I had just had a show, and my first studio art professor referred me to Katie,” said Harding.

Harding’s body of work is comprised largely of sculptures and works large enough to fill a whole room – however, he also has a background in mixed media including binding and making books as well as collaging.

“The collages help me,” said Harding, “Sometimes the sculptures inspire collages, and sometimes it’s vice versa.”

Harding draws not only from collages for ideas for sculptures. but from knowledge about the world around him. The inspiration for “Ghost Structures” stems from Harding’s scientific background.

Ideas and concepts such as quantum physics and philosophy are all incorporated into the work, as well as some themes from previous projects, said Harding.

“Ghost Structures” is less random than some of Harding’s previous sculptures, with continuous loops and no beginnings or ends to the structures, unifying the sculptures and making them more fluid — a word which ordinarily might not be applied to structures consisting of naturally-hued wooden beams. However, the twisting connections of the sculptures make them seem far more organic than sharp and manmade.

“The theme of the work deals with the cyclical nature of matter. Nature is always in a state of transformation,” said Harding.

Harding’s work will be displayed in the Leu Gallery until Nov. 30.

Article and video by Naomi Bartlett.

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