Frist Art Museum in Nashville

The Frist Art Museum opened in April 2001 with the intention of hosting and organizing art exhibitions with implications also for educational and socialization: in this sense the Martin ArtQuest Gallery with the endowment of thirty interactive stations is a real laboratory with its creative workshops. The museum building occupies one of the great historical monuments of Nashville: the former post office, built from 1933 to 1934 under the direction of Marr & Holman, according to the stylistic rules of classicism and Art Déco, thus softening the severity and bombast of the structure with decorative and coloristic softenings.

Thanks to the efforts of Thomas F. Frist, Jr., MD and his family, through the Frist Foundation, the ownership of the building was transferred to the city of Nashville in 1998 for the purpose of creating the Frist Art Museum which then, in 2001, opened its doors to start its cultural activity.

We now point out, as noteworthy and of great civil and moral commitment, the exhibition (online until August 1, 2021) that the Frist Art Museum has organized with the guest curator Woke3.

Woke3 is a graffiti artist, comic and toy designer, graphic designer and more, whose thinking can be summed up in these few words: “Graffiti is the source of my artistic interests. The larger the graffiti, the easier it is to see it and the greater the impact on the people of the community, on culture and on our daily existence “.

The exhibition mentioned above is titled “N2020: Community Reflections” and illustrates the effects of the year 2020 on the Nashville community and the inspiration for Woke3 was completely random: having seen just outside his home the remains of a car engulfed in a wildfire. This fact happened in January 2020 and afterwards it can be seen as a premonitory sign of what would happen in the months to come, with the devastating tornado on March 3 and with the explosion of a camper on December 25 in the same year: an attack not entirely cleared up, with one dead person, dozens of injured, cars that caught fire, fifty buildings damaged, a collapsed building. On these two striking and significant facts for Nashville (as for the whole world) then the dark cloud of the epidemic that exploded: Covid-19 with direct and indirect consequences on the employment of workers and on social justice. The answers given by the various authors invited by Woke3 not only document these events and the related experiences that followed them (in an introspective way, establishing points in common, direct and remote dialogues, testimonies and irrefutable reportage), but also embody pain for the events that occurred, the despair that fell on the Nashville community, and the hope for a subsequent redemption that can be summed up in the cry “We Need Change”.

The exhibition includes dozens of local artists, including poets Karimah Miller and Twigz; video directors Angel Adams and Anna Haas; choreographers Kyrstin Young and Dorinda Walker; musicians Chuck Indigo and Frederick Weathersby; photographers LeXander Bryant and DaShawn Lewis.

All together, the authors participating in N2020 offer a great glimpse into the experiences of an often overlooked creative community and encourage viewers to recognize both commonalities and differences. According to the editor’s explanation, “the N in the title represents several ideas. N stands for North Nashville, Nashville, the nation, the end of 2020, and also ‘in’, like going with yourself, as we were forced to do during the pandemic.”

Some of the images proposed in this large and magnificent “fresco” speak of a tragic 2020, they are truly touching and meaningful, but among all I would like to highlight those of Bryant, Lewis, Dowdy and Kept Frozen, regarding the local protests in the summer for racial justice, triggered by the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor: these are documents that not only underline the energy of a community and the unity of a battle for a democracy not yet fully accomplished, but also indicate courage demonstrated by a museum institution in dealing with such current and disruptive themes. So praise to this initiative which also encourages viewers to add their stories to the project by posting photos or short videos on Instagram with the hashtag # WithN2020.

Katie Delmez, curator of the Frist Art Museum and who worked with Woke3 on the N2020 project, notes: “Current events have deepened Frist’s commitment to our community and spurred efforts to respond in real time to seismic changes in act” on issues of equity and social justice. To complete the online exhibition, a live public performance, with choreographers, dancers and musicians participating in N2020, is scheduled for the end of the year 2021.

Charles Schloss


N2020: Community Reflections
Frist Art Museum
919 Broadway
Nashville, TN
@FristArtMuseum #TheFrist #WithN2020

DaShawn Lewis, 30 maggio 2020, 17:02, raduno “I Will Breathe”, Nashville, © DaShawn Lewis, courtesy of the artist and Frist Art Museum

DaShawn Lewis, May 30, 3:28 p.m., 2020. Photograph. © DaShawn Lewis, courtesy of the artist and Frist Art Museum

Woke3, January, 2020. Photograph. © Woke3, courtesy of the artist and Frist Art Museum

Twigz (feat. J. Reggaerica), Field Work, 2020. Video. © Twigz, courtesy of the artist and Frist Art Museum

Kyrstin Young and Angel Adams, The Great Debate, 2020. Video. © Kyrstin Young, courtesy of the artist and Frist Art Museum


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