Murals of North Nashville Now Features New Works by Omari Booker, LeXander Bryant, Brandon Donahue, Norf Art Collective, Elisheba Israel Mrozik, XPayne and Others
August 10, 2019–January 5, 2020
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 26, 2019)—The Frist Art Museum presents Murals of North Nashville Now,
an exhibition of new murals by local artists that seeks to shine a light on a culturally and historically rich yet often overlooked part of the city. Organized by the Frist Art Museum, the exhibition will be on display in the always-free Conte Community Arts Gallery from August 10, 2019 through January 5, 2020.
In recent years, as the Nashville area rapidly grows and changes, a vibrant street art community has flourished. New murals can now be seen across the city. This exhibition focuses on artists who live, work, or have studied in the historically African American neighborhood of North Nashville and will feature eight site-specific murals created by Omari Booker, LeXander Bryant, Brandon Donahue, Elisheba Israel Mrozik, the Norf Art Collective, XPayne and members of the community’s youth.
“These artists have strong ties to the neighborhood, and the imagery in their art often reflects its unique character as well as important social issues,” says Frist Art Museum curator Katie Delmez. “The work addresses both persistent problems such as displacement, gun violence, and incarceration, as well as positive elements like thriving black-owned businesses, a revitalized art scene, and valuable educational institutions. This duality suggests the multifaceted current position of this community in particular and much of Nashville as a whole.”
The new works were created on 8’ x 12’ panels and will be installed in the large bays of the Conte Community Arts Gallery. A map illustrating where other murals can be found in North Nashville will also be featured.
In his mural, Omari Booker highlights “redlining,” the legacy of discriminatory lending and investment policies, and the gentrification caused by the current residential construction boom. Photographer and graphic designer LeXander Bryant combines text and images to create overt propaganda meant to re-brainwash viewers with messages like “We Want You” that elevate the value of black lives. Brandon Donahue commemorates victims of local gun violence by creating a memorial wall on which the name of each person killed in 2018 is airbrushed. Elisheba Israel Mrozik focuses on the strength of women in particular as they navigate an environment filled with systemic inequities, incomplete histories, and racially motivated violence. The Norf Art Collective presents the children featured in their Clarksville Pike mural Family Matters, which honors local civil rights pioneers, as maturing individuals rising above negative situations and making plans for a healthy future with education, community, and clean natural resources as necessary building blocks. XPayne’s mural features a young superhero attempting to slay the dragon of greed, guided by the wisdom of a stoic elder dressed as Batman.
McGruder Family Resource Center, housed in the former John Early School, has contributed to the cultural landscape in recent years through artist residencies, workshops, and projects. Artists Courtney Adair Johnson, Marlos E’van, and Nuveen Barwari worked with youth from the Oasis Center and participants in Opportunity Now at McGruder to create a collaborative mural that will also be on view.
The generation of artists featured in this exhibition are following in the tradition of Tennessee State University professors Sam Dunson and Michael McBride and mentors James Threalkill, Mike “Ol Skool” Mucker, and Thaxton Waters. In an essay about murals in North Nashville, Delmez notes that important murals have been made in North Nashville since the 1930s, when Harlem Renaissance great Aaron Douglas came to Fisk University to create a series for Cravath Library.
More recently, TSU graduate Woke3 organized the first Norf Wall Fest in 2015 that brought many neighborhood artists together, including Dunson, Mucker, and Waters, to paint murals in an area under Jubilee Bridge and along Buchanan Street. The Norf Art Collective, an amorphous group with Woke3 and fellow artistsdoughjoe, Sensei, and keep3 at its core, evolved out of that project and is committed to producing public art that addresses social issues and the distinctive historical aspects of the community. “Although the members of the collective are concerned about inequities of the past and changes taking place in the neighborhood now, a spirit of triumph pervades Norf projects,” writes Delmez. “The exhibition explores what role the arts play in urban redevelopment and in the expression of neighborhood and individual identities, further testifying that art can be found all around us, not just inside museums and galleries,” writes Delmez.
Courtney Adair Johnson
Elisheba Israel Mrozik
Norf Art Collective
The Frist Art Museum is pleased to partner with Vanderbilt University Press in copublishing a book titled Murals of North Nashville Now. The publication will include plates of the murals in the exhibition, along with images of several public mural installations in the neighborhood. The book will include an essay on North Nashville and its history by Dr. Learotha Williams Jr., associate professor of African American and public history at Tennessee State University. Williams also runs the North Nashville Heritage Project. Katie Delmez, curator of the accompanying exhibition, will edit the volume and contribute an essay about the exhibition from both art-historical and community- engagement-driven perspectives. Susan H. Edwards, executive director and CEO of the Frist Art Museum, will write the foreword and acknowledgments. Generous support from various community leaders will allow the book to be placed in all Davidson County public schools and libraries, and presented to the Metropolitan Council and Tennessee General Assembly members.
Organized by the Frist Art Museum
Thursday, August 22 Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge
6:30 p.m. presented by Thaxton Waters
Frist Art Museum Rechter Room
Free; reservations required.
Sign up at FristArtMuseum.org/arthistory by August 19.
Join Thaxton Waters for this special edition of Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge at the Frist Art Museum, featuring music and conversation inspired by Murals of North Nashville Now and the historic neighborhood.
Founded in 2013, Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge & Gallery is a community culture museum about historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and their communities. It hosts meetings, lectures, workshops, social gatherings, and movies, and supports other enrichment programs.
Thursday, October 24 PechaKucha Night, vol. 34: From Our Streets to the Sky
5:30 p.m. presented in partnership with the Nashville Civic
Frist Art Museum Auditorium Design Center
Free to members; $10 general admission
(complimentary snacks, wine, and
beer [with valid ID] included). Register at civicdesigncenter.org
Join us for a PechaKucha Night inspired by the exhibitions Murals of North Nashville Now and OSGEMEOS: In between.
The original PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in 2003 as a way for young designers to meet, network, and show their work to the public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with PechaKucha Nights now happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from a Japanese term for the sound of chitchat, its format is simple—20 images x 20 seconds—making presentations concise and moving things along at a rapid pace. Visit civicdesigncenter.org for more details
Presenting sponsor: HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA Healthcare/TriStar Health
The exhibition is supported in part by the Ryman Hospitality Properties Foundation, Bonnaroo Works Fund, and SunTrust Foundation.
The Frist Art Museum gratefully acknowledges the generosity of our O’Keeffe Circle members in funding this exhibition.
The Frist Art Museum is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the Frist Art Museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Art Museum’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Art Museum exhibitions. Information on accessibility can be found at FristArtMuseum.org/accessibility. Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and for members; $15 for adults; $10 for seniors and college students with ID; and $8 for military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations by calling 615.744.3247. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon. For additional information, call 615.244.3340 or visit FristArtMuseum.org.