Since arriving in Nashville on April 1, 15 artisans from China have been working on the nearly 1,000 sculptural components needed to create 35 brilliantly lit displays that will illuminate The Fairgrounds Nashville during China Lights, from May 12 – June 11.
The main welcome gate is nearly complete and is prominently located off Walsh Road. Passersby can get a glimpse of some of the displays over the fencing including a massive 120’ foot dragon and a stunning wall of flowers.
The China Lights artisans are representatives of Sichuan Tianyu, a professional design and manufacturing company in Zigong, China specializing in the production and organization of lantern festivals that include Chinese folk-culture activities and entertainment. Having produced similar lantern festivals around the globe, Sichuan Tianyu has been recognized as a Key Enterprise of National Culture export.
“We have been honored to host these talented artists from China and we can’t wait to share this spectacular cultural event with our guests,” said Laura Schloesser, Executive Director of The Fairgrounds.
To create the displays, different teams are needed. Artists draw the shape of the lanterns on the ground or on several pieces of plywood. Using the outlines as a guide, the welding team forms the metal to create a three-dimensional form. Next, the team of electricians and lighting artists wire various types and colors of LED bulbs inside the lantern frames. To achieve the desired effects, this team must be aware of the fabric color that the gluing team will use to cover the framework later in the process. Artists hand-paint the eyes and other details to bring the sculptures to life.
This week the artisans will be busy completing the construction and installation of a first-of-its-kind lantern created to honor Music City.
The lanterns are built to survive rain and wind and last for weeks to months outdoors. Artisans maintain the lanterns throughout the festival.