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Thrive Cycle 2 Awards: Community Practice Artist Incubator

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

New iteration of popular funding program employs a cohort model, focuses on artist development and mentorship, and culminates in a gallery exhibition at the Parthenon.

Metro Arts' Thrive funding program has always sought to empower artists and invest in communities. This year, Metro Arts launched a new phase of Thrive that prioritizes artist development: our Community Practice Artist Incubator. This cycle of Thrive will include artist workshops, mentorship, and an exhibition of the artists' projects at the Parthenon's West Gallery in fall 2022.

Metro Arts opened the application for Thrive's second cycle of fiscal year 2022 in late September 2021. After the applications closed on October 26, submissions were scored by community panel, who based their ratings on artistic excellence, community engagement and placemaking, feasibility and logistics, and cultural equity. The panel recommended eight final projects for awards totaling $39,995, and their recommendations were approved by the Metro Arts Commission at their December 2021 meeting.

Congratulations to the inaugural cohort of our Thrive Community Practice Artist Incubator!

View the projects along with samples of the artists' work, in alphabetical order by project title, below.

Above: "My Body, My Frenemy" from "A Bending of its Own Kind," submitted by artist

Project: A Bending of Its Own Kind 2.0

Lead Artist: Rebekah Hampton Barger

Community Partners: Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt, Nashville School of the Arts

Summary: Interviews with Nashville residents living with chronic pain conditions will inspire a dance performance that will also be shared with medical providers treating chronic pain. Rebekah will also work with photographer Martin O’Connor on a series of photographs of individuals with scoliosis that highlight the resilience of the human body that will be projected during the performance. The performance will be presented for the staff of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. There will be an additional public performance at Nashville School of the Arts during the month of June - Scoliosis Awareness Month - in which patients of the Osher Center will be invited to attend, along with the public. ​

Above: Lead Artist Cameron Mitchell's promo video featuring past production, Infami. Submitted by the artist.

Project: Branches of PoeTREE

Lead Artist: Cameron Mitchell

Community Partner: Nashville Public Library (Downtown, East, Hadley Park, Edgehill branches)

Summary: This project will create an art trail partnering with four branches of the Nashville Public Library system, offering free creative writing workshops at 4 branches. The words of each community will be used by the artists to develop a unique stanza that will be included in artwork to be displayed in their branch library. Residents can tour each library to read the full poem, and the lead artists will host a poetry showcase.

Along with each piece of artwork will be a title card with a social media hashtag, contest instructions, and QR code. The QR code will link participants to information about the artwork, the surrounding community, and the remaining branch locations. The project will have printed brochures with the same information available, and a stamp card to record their visits. The first 50 people who complete this art trail by taking a selfie at each location and posting on social media with the designated hashtag will receive a free creative writing journal plus a free ticket to the poetry showcase that will be held on the final day of the art exhibition.

Above: sample work from mural artists Alex Lockwood and John Donovan. Submitted by the artists.

Project: Buchanan Arts Mural

Lead Artist: Alex Lockwood

Community Partner: Buchanan Arts, Creative Girls Rock

Summary: The artist will design and install a mural of tile, paint and found objects on the exterior wall of Elephant Gallery. The mural design will be developed with input from students and community volunteers, who will also assist with the sorting and construction of found object sculptural materials. These elements will be removable and alterable over time, allowing annual opportunities for students to impact the design of the mural. A relief of the mural will be displayed at the Parthenon gallery exhibition.

Above: Heritage Spotlight on artist Reza Filsoofi. Submitted by the artist.

Project: Caravaranserai: A New Year, A New Home

Lead Artist: Reza Filsoofi

Community Partner: Global Education Center

Summary: This project will teach music of the Middle East to a diverse group of community members who can perform at a welcoming event for new arrivals from Afghanistan in March, 2022, in celebration of Nowruz (Nauruz). This project will not only welcome our new Afghan neighbors, but it will also introduce different styles of music from the Middle East to the community. In addition to musicians affiliated with the Global Education Center, the community partner for this project, members of the Iranian, Kurdish, Indian and other communities will be invited to participate in this project. Music lessons will be free leading up to the culminating performance, then move to paid group classes at project’s end in order to keep the ensemble going as well as continue building its size and its repertoire. While Nowruz is the Iranian New Year, also known as the Persian New Year, it is celebrated worldwide as a welcome to spring, beginning on the Spring Equinox. Since Nowruz is celebrated in Afghanistan as well as among many residents of Nashville of diverse ethnicities, it will be a festive way to welcome our new neighbors with space for conversation, a community meal, and music that will have the ring of familiarity to our new neighbors, sparking a warm feeling that home is truly wherever you land.

Above: Ayumi Bennett's sketchnote/graphic about Majora Carter for the Nashville Post. Submitted by the artist.

Project: Growing Together in Nashville/Connecting Roots

Lead Artist: Ayumi Bennett

Community Partner: Nashville Food Project

Summary: In partnership with Nashville Food Project’s Growing Together program, the artist will interview farmers in the program about their stories, learn about cultivation techniques, collect recipes for the produce they grow, and map how the program brings the produce to consumers through sketchnoting/graphic recording and a journey map shared with CSA members who will also share feedback during CSA pickup. These responses will inform a final visual art project that the artist will produce for the Parthenon exhibit.​

"SINAJ" choreographed by Asia Pyron, performed by PYDANCE. Submitted by the artist.

Project: PYDANCE Performance

Lead Artist: Asia Pyron

Community Partner: Centennial Arts Center

Summary: Director Asia Pyron will create a dance performance to highlight the Centennial Arts Center’s controversial and racially discriminative past as a segregated pool, sharing its story through movement. The project incorporates interviews with senior citizens and activists who witnessed a segregated Nashville, verbally telling the story and sharing personal experiences to create a partnership of speech and movement. Pyron will also be working with the music of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian activist and musician, to represent the message of racism in America and abuse of African Americans.

Above: "Things Change," by Mark "Kwesi" McClendon. Submitted by the artist.

Project: The Living Legacy of College Heights Elders

Lead Artist: Mark "Kwesi" McClendon

Community Partners: Rev. Dr. Amy Steele, Vanderbilt University Religion and Arts Gallery

Summary: Over the course of four months, the artist will invite 6 neighbors to participate in a historic project chronicling some of their experiences as homeowners in College Heights. Partners will then edit and produce a multi-station kiosk where patrons can select headphones corresponding to each elders story on individual screens. These “Living Stories” will ideally be filmed in their original homes, highlighting the decor and nostalgia that each elder considers significant to their story.


Learn more about Metro Arts Thrive, read funding guidelines, and view past projects at ​​

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