Manuel Inspired Art

DISCOVERING DESIGN

Students from Cane Ridge High School and Nashville School of the Arts created works inspired by country couture designer Manuel. Students toured the museum to view a selection of Manuel’s signature costumes. They heard him tell his personal story and they learned about his creative process during question-and-answer. Among the wisdom he shared, Manuel told the students that he gives his clients what they do not know they need. Students took this advice back to their classrooms to create inspired costume designs. 

ABOUT MANUEL

A native of southwestern Mexico, Manuel immigrated to the United States and began designing clothes in the 1950s. He fitted suits for Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, apprenticed with western couturiers Nathan Turk and Nudie Cohn, designed for Bob Dylan, and styled some of country music’s biggest stars, including Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley, and Marty Stuart. Manuel’s eye-catching designs have helped popularize ornate western wear among a new generation of country artists and fans. His designs can be found throughout the museum. ​

Manuel

Manuel

ADELE

Masami Agari
Nashville School of the Arts

The vocal artist I chose to use as my inspiration was Adele. Her music is full of soul, her vocal range is stunning, and she has not conformed to society’s physical and social expectations. The piece itself was made with such a variety of colors to refer to the creativity inside her songs and how she portrays them. The body positioning is open and inviting to indicate an enveloping atmosphere of her presence. The background of blue and gold symbolizes a passion, not so far as red, but a deeper depth of the unknown, similar to the midnight sky. The lyrics to some of her more popular songs such as “Skyfall” and “Rolling in the Deep” strongly influenced my work, ensnaring me into a trance-like state. The bold colors of her personality flew through into the body with yarn and a bit of acrylic paint, unlikely allies. This piece was very inspired to invoke Adele’s tone and presence.

BRENDA LEE

Lizardo Gomez Moreno
Cane Ridge High School

BRENDA LEE

Maria Cruz
Cane Ridge High School

The person I chose for my project was Brenda Lee. She is a top-charting female vocalist of the 1960s. She sang rock, country, and pop music. Lee is known for her hits “I’m Sorry,” “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” and “All Alone Am I.” She was known as “Little Miss Dynamite” and was just thirteen years old when she scored her Christmas hit.

The first thing I put on the portrait were some of downtown Nashville’s buildings, for example, the Batman building. I put them on there because, besides Elvis Presley, she was one of the biggest recording artists in Nashville. At first I wanted to make it the color royal blue, however the color didn't pop out well against the black and white. So I went over it twice with gold, which worked much better.

I also chose to have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame logo on there because I thought it was cool that she was inducted in 2002. I chose to put a baseball to represent her dad, who played baseball in the army. I made it with sequins so that it would pop out. I also put a bow of sequins in her hair. The bow was green and red, to represent her Christmas hit. And lastly, I sewed in dynamite exploding to represent her nickname: “Little Miss Dynamite.”

In conclusion, it was a great experience working on this project. Obviously, it was very challenging. However, it was helpful in teaching me not to give up when something gets hard, and it helped with my creativity.

CARL SMITH

Vanessa Guzman
Cane Ridge High School

I looked at Carl Smith’s top five most popular songs. The first is “Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way.” This song took the home run, it was his #1 famous song. He is known by that song. The second popular song was “Don't Just Stand There.” This song talks about not wasting your time and love is a rare thing. I feel like some girl played him or he was heartbroken when he wrote this song. His third popular song is “Are You Teasing Me.” The song was a #1 for Smith and always a crowd favorite. His fourth popular song is called “Hey Joe.” People get confused that this song was recorded by Jimi Hendrix. The fifth most popular song by Carl Smith is “Loose Talk.” It was later released by a country singer, Carlene Carter (Carl Smith’s daughter), in 1995.

Mr. Country Carl Smith was one of the most popular honky-tonkers of the 1950s, racking up more than thirty Top Ten hits over the course of the decade. Smith maintained that popularity into the late 1970s, during which time he had a charting single every year except one. Smith had a talent for singing smooth ballads which polished the rough edges of hardcore country. He could sing pure honky-tonk with the best of them, and his hardest country was made tougher by the addition of a drum kit. Smith was one of the very first country artists to perform regularly with a drummer, and though it earned him criticism at the time, the hard-driving sound of those up-tempo numbers proved to be influential.

The green on the guitar is the meaning of the state of Tennessee since he is from there. The brown represents something antique, and the color brown is used a lot by country singers. The pins on his shirt signify when he was in the army, including his navy blue hat. Because he used to be in the military I did a little of navy and country mix up in the image. On the pins I used gold and on the navy hat I put blue sequins, and on the side I used grey thread as well. The songs he wrote were sad so I used a heart split in two and each side there was a broken heart. I did use red thread on it since hearts are red and would be more noticeable. Lastly I put red beads on the tie representing one his songs called “Red Carpet.”

Carl Smith was truly a dreamer. What I mean by that is that even though he had done so many things he still kept chasing his dreams. Even if he used to fight for our country with other great people, he had a backup and wanted to be known for who he was and what he’s done. He became famous by putting in so much hard work and effort to overcome his struggles. He still went for what he wanted to become. He just knew what he was doing with his life and I really liked that about him.

CARRIE UNDERWOOD

Abigail Anderson, Soleil Cantarutti, Kaitlyn Harrell, and Oliver Jackson
Nashville School of the Arts

Our group chose Carrie Underwood for our project. We chose her because of her iconic style and her bubbly personality. She can be seen in anything from elegant ball gowns to jean shorts and a tank top, which makes her the perfect candidate for Manuel and his bold style. We chose to use the colors black, blue, and gold. We chose the blue and gold colors on her dress to represent her ties to Nashville.. The colors blue and gold were chosen specifically to represent her husband, Mike Fisher, who plays for the Nashville Predators hockey team. For her jacket, we chose black to coincide with her regular performance choices. This is an outfit that she would be able to perform in at any awards ceremony. The dress is something familiar to her stage presence, while the jacket provides some of the Manuel flare. The accents on her jacket sleeve are related to her music career, and show a few music notes swirling up her arm. The shoulder has the Nashville Predators logo, again a reference to her husband. On the back, there would be two large guitars, similar to the plaza to the Grand Ole Opry.

CHARLEY PRIDE

Ephrem Tegegne
Cane Ridge High School

CINDY WALKER

Dareen Abdulrahman
Cane Ridge High School

The legend I chose from the Country Music Hall of Fame was Cindy Walker. Cindy Walker was an American songwriter as well as a country music singer and dancer. As a songwriter, Cindy Walker was responsible for a large number of popular songs recorded by different artists. Walker is known for her popular songs “Dusty Skies,” “It’s All Your Fault,” and “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again.” Walker wrote her first hit when she was just twelve, called “Dusty Skies.”

The first item I put was a cloud and used the color brown to represent “Dusty Skies” as her first hit. I put a green cactus because Walker was born in Texas. I also put music notes on my portrait to show that she was a songwriter and also a singer. Lastly, I put an old microphone to show that Walker was a singer.

In conclusion, doing this project was stressful and hard but I learned a lot about my legend, Cindy Walker. She was a talented woman who was known for being an amazing songwriter. Although this project took long to complete, I loved how I experienced something new. The lesson I learned from this project is don't give up when things get hard.

CINDY WALKER

Paulina Rios Ortiz
Cane Ridge High School

The reason why I used embroidery yarn in this art project was to show a little bit of Manuel’s work. Other materials used in this project are sequins and embroidery beads. The famous country artist I chose was Cindy Walker; she was an American songwriter as well as a dancer. Cindy Walker was not just a songwriter and a dancer she also wrote poetry. She was born in Mexia, Texas, in 1918. She was mostly known for her ability to capture complex emotions in thirty-two bars. As you can see in my art piece I added a blue moon with a little touch of gold because one of her Top Ten songs was "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again." As you can notice, I also added a red music note to show that she was a songwriter. On the left side corner I made a cotton plant because her dad was a cotton picker. The pink sequins and flowers were just to add a little taste of Manuel’s work. Last but not least, the ink feather pen was to inform that she was a poet. I was trying to show and inform visually by using symbols and images.

CONNIE SMITH

Andrea Avila Rivera
Cane Ridge High School

I choose Constance June Meador, known as Connie Smith, as my artist legend for Manuel's project. She was born August 14, 1971, in Elkhart, Indiana. Smith grew up in West Virginia and Ohio with her family. She was always so entertaining, she would always listen to the radio, especially the Grand Ole Opry. At a young age she learned to play the guitar and started doing local events. She won a competition that got her a spot at the Grand Ole Opry; she came to Nashville and became a solo artist. Smith made songs that consist of jazz, gospel, and country. Her top three songs where "Then and Only Then,” "Nobody but a Fool (Would Love You)" and "Once a Day." She astonished us by her amazing emotions, tone, and her power phasing during each performance. With that said, the image I have created for my legend is simple. The image on the right of her is the seal of her birth place, Elkhart, Indiana. On her left you can see records that I set for her top three songs, as said above. On Smith’s shirt I added 5 flowers and a cross. She always had a big heart for her family and had her religion with her at all times. And with the inspiration of Manuel I had decided to add sequins on the images that are unusually bright and catch the attention on the eye.

CONNIE SMITH

Sierra Shay
Cane Ridge High School

Connie Smith has had a huge impact on country music. Many regard her as one of the best voices they’ve ever heard. Her songs tell about heartbreak and moving forward after you are hurt. She had a rough childhood and teenage years, but she never let it hold her back. Each time she lost love she wrote about being hurt and down but after not too long she came back even better. To represent that and her growing up in the country I used purple flowers. A stitched heart is the most recognized symbol in my mind for coming back from lost love and surviving a broken heart. No matter what she went through she always came back the same beautiful person.

DAVID BOWIE

Joshua Rodas
Nashville School of the Arts

David Bowie is a legendary singer and songwriter whose musical career spanned nearly five decades. His first hit was the 1969 single “Space Oddity.” I believe that Bowie would have had an outfit with the intricate and complex, yet simple, pattern of space. The main color scheme of the outfit would be violet and blue because of how those colors are used mainly to portray space. This would have paid tribute to what made him a hit all those years ago. The pattern would need nothing more than just the pattern and complexity of space. David Bowie was a colorful and vibrant artist as he was one-of-a-kind in his time. No one was like him in a sense of how he wrote his music. The cosmos is a wondrous place and is what some might consider the birth of something great. I chose space because in a way it symbolizes him and the depth of his music and life.

DEFORD BAILEY

Antonio Fitts
Cane Ridge High School

DOLLY PARTON

Devon Hawkins
Cane Ridge High School

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