Press release taken from the Renaissance Center’s Website. The Mad Hatter, March Hare, Mock Turtle, Caterpillar and other characters from Alice in Wonderland are waiting to greet students who come to The Renaissance Center to see the Mind Enriching Theatre series production of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale.Wonderland, a sculpture installation by Franklin artist Paul Fly, is on display in the rotunda of The Renaissance Center through May 23.Outside the Performance Hall, the Mad Hatter presides over his loony tea party with his guests the March Hare and the Dormouse. Just inside the center’s entrance are the Caterpillar, the Duchess and her baby and the Mock Turtle.The MET series is presenting the Prince Street Players’ version of Alice in Wonderland for school and group field trips through May 23 and Fly’s installation will be on display through that same period.A Nashville native, Fly created Wonderland as the final thesis for his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Austin Peay State University.“I was trying to produce an environment that one could be completely immersed into,” Fly said. “The show was originally installed in a Victorian house in Clarksville, where the viewer would move through each chapter in the story as a separate and complete environment.”For the tea party scene, Fly created a table of hand-forged steel, which is set with hand-thrown pottery pieces. He built the chairs and a phonograph from scratch, using the bell of a trombone for the horn. The heads and hands of each character at the table are bisque-fired stoneware and the fur on the March Hare and the Dormouse is actual rabbit fur that was cut from pelts and glued on in one-inch sections.The bodies of the Mad Hatter and March Hare are constructed from welded steel and foam padding. In addition to his creativity and sweat, Fly put even more into his pieces.“The hair on the Mad Hatter is partially mine and partially from a friend of mine from Clarksville,” he explained.The Duchess and her baby have the same style frame with hand-painted ceramic and steel skeleton bodies. The card men are sheet metal and have ceramic faces and hands.“The Caterpillar and Mock Turtle were mostly done in a media I had never worked in before,” Fly said. “The faces of each are ceramic, as well as the arms of the Caterpillar. The bodies, the rock and the mushroom are built of Styrofoam covered in several layers of Bondo.”Fly added special touches to make the characters come alive, such as speakers so the Mad Hatter and March Hare can converse, a pump so the Hatter can squirt water out of his finger and a fan inside the Caterpillar’s hookah that allows smoke from an incense cone to waft out.“I have always enjoyed the story (of Alice in Wonderland), at leas the Disney version that I was familiar with,” said the 24-year-old artist. “I wanted to produce an environment where the viewer could take on a part of the story, in this case, the place of Alice. While preparing to begin work on the project, I ran across the work of Arthur Rackham, whose work I found amazingly inspiring and it is from his etchings that most of my sculptures found their starts.”Growing up in Franklin, Fly said his early childhood interests in art and science were nurtured with an abundance of at-home projects, the dismantling of broken electronics and working toys. Countless hours were also spent wandering in the woods, daydreaming and collecting rocks.As with most children, Fly enjoyed afternoons filled with crayons and modeling clay. Writing and illustrating stories was also commonplace, not only in the home but at school as well, and his love of art and the narrative grew from these beginnings.His first exposure at The Renaissance Center came when one of his pieces was accepted for the 8th annual Renaissance Regional Art Exhibit in 2006, earning a Purchase Award.“We are excited that we are able to complement the theatre department’s production of Alice in Wonderland by hosting Paul Fly’s Wonderland installation,” said Armon Means, curator for The Renaissance Center. “This is a prime example of how the fine arts departments at the center can create field trip experiences that incorporate the visual arts, performing arts, music and dance.”Wonderland by Paul Fly will be displayed in the rotunda of The Renaissance Center through May 23. Exhibits at the center are open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and are always free. For more information on the artist, visit www.paulfly.com. To learn more about exhibits and performances at The Renaissance Center, call (615) 740-5600 or visit www.rcenter.org.