Best of Tennessee Craft 2021 Award Winners Announced

Nashville’s Beizar Aradini is first Kurdish American to take the exhibition’s top prize.
Monday, November 08, 2021 | 02:19pm
My Existence is Political by Beizar Aradini

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — November 8, 2021 — Tennessee Craft and the Tennessee State Museum are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Best of Tennessee Craft Exhibition, on view at the Museum through February 20, 2022. This juried exhibition celebrates and showcases the exceptional contemporary and traditional craft our state has to offer, providing public visibility and recognition for the quality and diversity of craft found throughout Tennessee.

Best in Show went to Nashville’s Beizar Aradini for her fiber/textile work, "My Existence is Political." She is the first Kurdish American to win the exhibition’s top prize.

Jurors Peter Baldaia, Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Huntsville Museum of Art, and Annabeth Hayes Dooley, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Tennessee State Museum, selected the artwork, and subsequent winners, for the exhibition. The resulting 75 remarkable craft artworks, ranging from traditional forms to cutting-edge conceptual pieces, represent artists from Memphis to Johnson City.Born in Mardin, Kurdistan in 1991, Aradini immigrated with her family to Nashville, Tennessee in 1992. Her work unravels her family’s story as immigrants and examines cultural displacement through craft and fiber arts. Aradini has been featured in many exhibitions nationally and in Bê Welat: The Unexpected Storytellers at nGbk Gallery in Berlin, Germany. Her artwork has also been exhibited at the Frist Art Museum as part of the We Count: First-Time Voters exhibition which received an Award of Excellence by the Tennessee Association of Museums. Her work has been featured in local publications such as "Four Women Artists Reflect on Peoples and Places" in the Nashville Scene and "The Ties That Bind" in Native Magazine. She was recently selected as an artist in residency at Arquetopia International Artist Residency and completed an Andean Textile and Weaving workshop during her month long stay in Urubamba, Peru, an opportunity that was funded in part by a scholarship from Tennessee Craft.

A complete list of winners, chosen by Jurors Baldaia and Dooley, is below. Images are available at

Best in Show 

Beizar Aradini, Nashville—Fiber/Textile “My Existence is Political”

First Place

Marty McConnaughey, Sharps Chapel—Basketry “The Gift”

Second Place

John Jordan, Cane Ridge—Wood “Elm Burl Jar”

Third Place

Ashley Seay, Nashville—Sculpture "The Black Rose of Nashville”

Merit Awards

Jeanne W. Brady, Smithville—Fiber/Textile “Custom Made”

Sherri Warner Hunter, Bell Buckle—Sculpture “Clowning Around”

Monya Nikahd, Watertown—Fiber/Textile “Interwoven”

Lesley Patterson-Marx, Nashville—Fiber/Textile “Pipevine Swallowtail and Hackberry Emperor Butterfly Apron”

Ronald E. Young, Chattanooga—Wood “Andrew Jackson Sugar Press”

A complete list of featured artists can be found at Images of winners are available at Plan your visit to the Tennessee State Museum at Admission is free.

About Tennessee Craft

About Tennessee Craft: Tennessee Craft, formerly The Tennessee Association of Craft Artists (TACA), works to continue and create Tennessee’s fine craft tradition. With more than 500 members throughout the state, Tennessee Craft serves as the premier connecting point for local, independent makers and their audiences through craft fairs, exhibitions, professional development, networking, mentorship and other educational programs. Visit to learn more.

About Tennessee State Museum

The Tennessee State Museum, on the corner of Rosa L Parks Blvd. and Jefferson Street at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, is 13,000 years of Tennessee art and history. Through six permanent exhibitions titled Natural History, First Peoples, Forging a Nation, The Civil War and Reconstruction, Change and Challenge and Tennessee Transforms, the Museum takes visitors on a journey – through artifacts, films, interactive displays, events and educational and digital programing – from the state’s geological beginnings to the present day. Additional temporary exhibitions explore significant periods and individuals in history, along with art and cultural movements. The Museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.. and Sundays from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. For more information on exhibitions and events, please visit

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Photos of winning artworks are available at this Dropbox link:

Julia Canada Wilburn | Director of Communications & Artist Relations             
Tennessee Craft                                                              
615.736.7600 |
Joe Pagetta | Director of Communications
Tennessee State Museum
(615) 741-5134 |