Student Art Show at Oasis Center’s Underground Art Studio on April 26, 5:30-6:30
By Ariel Bui
Musical Artist, Founder & Music Educator at Melodia Studio, WXNA DJ & Activist
Jessi Zazu was planning to host an Arts & Activism class out of her basement and screen-printing studio for youth in her North Nashville neighborhood when she received a cervical cancer diagnosis, forcing her to postpone starting the class. She expressed this to me when we were spending time together, organizing her art studio as she was preparing for her family’s Relativity Art Show at Art & Soul last year. After Jessi passed away September 12, 2017, it became my mission to see a class like this happen. Her mom, Kathy Wariner, loved the idea, especially as she was deciding to form a non-profit in Jessi’s honor.
Julia Martin recommended I reach out to the Oasis Center, which serves youth close to where Jessi lived. Sure enough, Abby Whisenant at Oasis Center offered up some of their grant funding, their Underground Art Studio space, and their art materials to the effort. Sarah Bandy and Hailey Rowe at YEAH! (Youth Empowerment Through the Arts & Humanities) offered grant funding for a Rock Block-style Arts & Activism class. Rock Block is the school-year version of Rock Camp’s band program, so it is exciting to extend this format to Rock Camp’s Arts & Activism workshop for a class outside of the summer Southern Girls Rock’n’Roll Camps and Tennessee Teens Rock Camps that Jessi grew up in.
Jessi’s friend and Nashville-based artist Marlos E’van drew up a curriculum that incorporates many media, from zine-making to digital collage, bringing in teaching artist and fellow McGruder Artist-in-Residence Courtney Adair Johnson as well. The focus of the class is to help youth explore their identities, identify issues that are important to them, and to find and express their voices through art.
Kathy Wariner, Jessi’s mom, is excited to present this as Jessi Zazu, Inc’s first offered programming, hoping that it can eventually become a year-long program and be just the first of many programs offered by Jessi Zazu, Inc to continue her work and legacy.
“The mission of Jessi Zazu, Inc. is to honor and memorialize the legacy of Jessi Zazu by continuing her work in the arts, social justice, and women’s health.”
The classes, free for youth ages 13-17, are taking place Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. at Oasis Center’s Underground Art Studio, culminating in an art opening April 26, 2018 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Oasis Center as well as an art exhibit at Ft Houston during August’s Art Crawl.
For more information, visit www.jessizazu.org.