NASHVILLE, TN – July 10, 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 part of the city, on display Aug. 10 to Jan. 5, 2020 in the Conte Community Arts Gallery.
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.
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 is 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. 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 artists doughjoe, 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.
For more information, visit www.fristartmuseum.org.
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