First to take the stage was the mariachi band performance from the Wright Middle School and Glenncliff High School. Brimming with energy and excitement, the students set a high precedent for the rest of the evening.
Each speaker spoke truthfully and honestly to his or her topic and brought real-life experiences and thoughts into the speech.
Walter Hood spoke about his method in developing a prophetic aesthetic. Hood is an artist from Oakwood, California. Creating and commemorating moments in history for his community, Hood’s art can be found all over the country.
“When you don’t have windows, you don’t know what’s behind the wall,” said Hood about to art in today’s society.
Following Hood was Don Schlosser, the artistic director of the 140-person LGBT and friends chorus, Nashville in Harmony.
“We are justice-seeking people, and we are singing, singing for our lives,” said Schlosser.
Schlosser’s passion toward creating an inclusive community through music sung loudly from his personal stories and experiences. Schlosser told stories of family members who once closed their hearts to this community but changed their original thoughts once hearing the chorus.
Next to take the stage was Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay, a poet, singer, songwriter and senior at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School in Nashville.
Mukhopadhyay recited the poetry from a local mural displaying poetry from students in her high school. The poetry Mukhopadhyay recited was written from the hearts of students who have seen the power or art in their lives.
Robin Paris and Tom Williams took the stage after Mukhopadhyay and spoke about art and life on death row. Paris and Williams work with male inmates on death row and teach them to share their stories, humanity and life through art. The duo has exhibited the art of these inmates around the country.
“Consider these men as complex human beings who are worthy of our sympathy,” said Williams.
Perhaps one of the most engaging parts of the night was Act Like A GRRRL, an annual four-week autobiographical writing workshop founded by Vali Forrister for girls ages 12-18. The workshop offers a platform for young girls to have a voice and be heard. Act Like A GRRRL performed two pieces, one written and one sung.
After the performance, the room was silent and no one uttered a word. These young girls and what they had to say captivated the audience.
Lastly was hip-hop artist Marco Pavé. Pavé spoke about the music genre as a high art form. Working within the Memphis, Tennessee community, he helped influence the way organizations view art.
At the end of the evening, the audience left knowing more about race, religion, gender identity and social justice issues and their relation to art. Truly testifying itself as an Artober event, TEDxNashville ended in applause and celebration for all that art has to offer.
This article was written by Meg MacDonald.