Monthaven Art and Cultural Center

Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center
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As a teen, did you ever try drawing your dream house? These grandiose structures, complete with indoor swimming pools, game rooms and movie theaters, are not always practical. But they sure are fun!

Nashville architect James Edwards knows how exciting it can be for kids to tap into their inner Frank Lloyd Wright. This summer, he’ll guide students through the basics of architectural design as part of a summer art camp called Designing Dreams. The one-week camp for teens 13 and up is part of Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center’s Summer Teen Art Immersive Camp. The camp will be held June 10 to 14 at Nōssi College of Art.

“I’ve developed an engaging curriculum that will allow students to develop a custom house,” says Edwards. “We’ll basically spend a week imagining our dreams.”

It’s tempting to start the design of a dream house with a sketch of the building’s exterior. But that’s not the way architects begin their work. Many commence with interior rooms and work their way out.

“This is where architecture becomes an art form,” says Edwards. “You want the interior rooms to flow one to the other in an aesthetically pleasing way. It takes technical skill and creative imagination to do this well.”

It also takes the proper architectural tools. Campers enrolled in Designing Dreams will all receive an architectural tool kit that will include pencils, pens, triangles, tape, protractors compasses and more.

By the end of the week, campers will have a project design that will be ready for presentation. They will also emerge with a basic understanding of what architects actually do. As a teen, Edwards would have loved such insight. He understood next to nothing about the architectural profession as a freshman at the University of Tennessee.

“I entered college as a fine arts major,” Edwards recalls. “I did OK, but I had little interest in being an artist and even less talent. My roommate, a high school buddy, was in architecture, and I loved what he was doing. It seemed to fit my skill set since I was a decent artist who was also good at math and science.”

Apparently, Edwards was also good at networking, an important character trait for an aspiring architect. After his first year of college, he began knocking on doors at architectural firms. One local architect was impressed enough to give him work. The rest, as they say, is history.

Edwards eventually started his own firm, called Edwards and Hotchkiss. Over the years, the firm worked on everything from golf courses and medical buildings to state parks and churches. Naturally, Edwards designed more than a few dream houses.

Stylistically, Edwards is a proud generalist. “A lot of famous architects considered themselves to be modernists,” Edwards says. “But I’ve always worked in every style. To me, style is the client’s prerogative.”

Edwards may be agnostic when it comes to architectural style, but he’s born again in his artistic approach. An old school architect, he believes a great design begins when a dream is created on paper, not on a computer.

“I think architects lose something when they design everything on computers,” he says. “There’s an inspirational immediacy that you just can’t get without pen and paper.”

Kaylin Warden

External Affairs Coordinator

Kaylin Warden joined the Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center staff in 2024 as External Affairs Coordinator. In this post, she organizes special off-site events and manages the organization’s external communications. She also works with the development department by updating the MACC’s customer relations database, and she assists the executive director in setting up exhibitions. Above all else, Kaylin is passionate about the arts. It comes as no surprise, then, that she is now pursuing a master’s degree in art history. When she’s not at the MACC, you can find her reading her favorite books (especially ones dealing with maritime mysteries), cooking, gardening, playing with her cat and two dogs, and cheering for the Nashville Predators.

Ruth Chase

Regional Arts Director
Ruth Chase is the Regional Arts Director of Monthaven Arts and Cultural Center, joining the team in 2023. For Ruth, the job is all about community, bringing people together to uplift and educate artists and art lovers alike. Her role at Monthaven is to strengthen the local artist community and build connections that will enrich Hendersonville and our surrounding communities through art exhibitions, art education, and opportunities for regional artists.
Prior to joining Monthaven, Ruth worked in the arts for over 30 years and is a multimedia artist and graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute. Her artistic practice is inquiry-based and engages in community bridge-building. She was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles, curated and juried exhibitions, and has taught at the Crocker Art Museum.
Ruth was awarded an Artist-in-Residence for Artist Activating Communities through a grant from the California Arts Council for three consecutive years. Her film Belonging screened at both the 18th Annual Nevada City Film Festival and Wild & Scenic Film Festival. She has received the Legendary Female Artist of Venice award, and she has exhibited in The Crocker Kingsley, the Museum of Northern California Art, and the Diego Rivera Gallery at the San Francisco Art Institute. Ruth also continues her work as a Curatorial Consultant and Art director for the Californian Indigenous Research Project, where she has worked with the local tribe since 2018.