The Frist Art Museum presents N2020: Community Reflections, an online initiative that showcases creative expressions by an array of Nashville artists in response to the historic events and challenges of 2020. The exhibition launches on March 3, 2021—the one-year anniversary of Nashville’s devastating 2020 tornado—on and will feature photographs, videos, spoken-word poetry, and dance performances.

The Frist engaged artist and North Nashville native Woke3 last summer as the guest curator on the project. Since then, he has collaborated with photographers, choreographers, dancers, musicians, videographers, and spoken-word artists in his community to reflect on the past year and consider paths forward. The works cover the destruction of the tornado in North Nashville, the impact of COVID-19 and the burden it places on essential workers, the urgent calls for racial justice, a contentious presidential election, and the downtown bombing on Christmas morning. “It is our goal to touch as many lives as possible by establishing common ground through artistic expression,” writes Woke3 in a curatorial statement. “We want more people to think inclusively as we cultivate ground for all to share how the events of the year affected them as community members, artists, business owners, etc., and to support people shouting ‘We Need Change’ through their respective art forms. That is where we begin the work.”

Woke3 is an influential muralist based in North Nashville, a historically African American neighborhood. He is a founder of the Norf Art Collective, whose work was featured in the 2019 exhibition and book Murals of North Nashville Now. Dozens of local artists are represented in the exhibition, including spoken-word poets Karimah Miller and Twigz; video directors Angel Adams, Anna Haas, and Curry of Bead and Cowrie; choreographers Kyrstin Young, Dorinda Walker, and Shabaz Ujima; musicians Chuck Indigo, Frederick Weathersby, 2 Live Bre, Tim Gent, Brian Brown, J. Reggaerica, Yours Truly Jai, David Haas, and Jaie Tiefenbrunn; photographers LeXander Bryant, Lesa Dowdy, Kept Frozen, Keep3, and DaShawn Lewis; and many more.

Together, the components of N2020 offer insight into the experiences of an often overlooked creative community and encourage viewers to recognize both commonalities and differences. “The N in the title represents several ideas,” explains Woke3. “N for North Nashville, Nashville, the nation, the end of 2020, and also ‘in,’ like going within yourself, as we’ve all been doing during the pandemic.”

The exhibition begins with Karimah Miller reciting a poetic narrative, paired with the chronological unfolding of selected photographs.

The first photograph, taken by Woke3 one early January morning outside his home, depicts a car engulfed in flames. While he saw the event as a premonition of the year to come, he didn’t anticipate everything that eventually occurred.

Scenes of the March 3 tornado’s destructive path and rebuilding efforts are poignantly captured by Keep3, LeXander Bryant, and DaShawn Lewis.

“Field Work,” a performance by Twigz (feat. J. Reggaerica and produced by Immaquelate Visions [Justin Woolen]), serves as a segue to Lewis’s haunting images of the COVID-19 shutdown in the spring.Twigz (feat. J. Reggaerica). Field Work, 2020. Video. Courtesy of the artist. © Twigz

The Conscious Collective. VOTE, 2020. Video. Courtesy of the artists.
© The Conscious Collective

The summer’s local demonstrations for racial justice, sparked by the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, are documented in photographs by Bryant, Lewis, Dowdy, and Kept Frozen and convey the movement’s sustained energy of defiance and unity. VOTE by the Conscious Collective, a beautifully choreographed music video that encourages voter participation, features local dancers, musicians, visual artists, students, and community leaders.


The exhibition concludes with a short video capturing everything that happened in 2020 through the dream of a single figure, directed by Angel Adams and Austin Peay State University student and choreographer Kyrstin Young.


Woke3 encourages viewers to add their stories to the project by posting photographs or short videos on Instagram with the hashtag #WithN2020.

Frist Art Museum curator Katie Delmez, who worked with Woke3 on N2020 notes, “Current events have deepened the Frist’s commitment to our community and prompted efforts to respond in real time to the seismic shifts taking place. Woke immediately came to mind as a potential guest curator when we had just a vague concept for a show about 2020 in which we wanted to ‘pass the mic’ in a sense.” N2020 is the latest in a succession of exhibitions focusing on equity and social justice issues at a local level. The immersive installation Blood at the Root by EXO:DUS (Elisheba and Aaron Mrozik) explored how implicit bias can develop over time within families. The Nashville Flood: Ten Years Later documented the 2010 flood and the ensuing development that accelerated inequity. Murals of North Nashville Now showcased artists working in the historically Black neighborhood, with imagery reflecting rich community history and important social issues. We Shall Overcome: Civil Rights and the Nashville Press, 1957-1968 highlighted the important role that Nashville played in the national civil rights movement.