The Curb Center is one of the only entities on Vanderbilt’s campus which supports creative endeavours by students, staff, faculty and community members. While each project is uniquely designed to address a specific need, all awarded projects are centered around creativity. Learn more about past projects and our Catalyst Alumni (here) and how to apply for a Catalyst award to fund your own creative ideas (here).
We are currently supporting the following projects.
Qais Assali (Faculty Catalyst)
Jose Luis Benavides (Faculty Catalyst)
Branding Conflict upends ideas of place, invisibility, erasure, nationalism, propaganda, war games, gender discourse, and resistance. Highlighting contemporary design practices and processes, this fragmented brand provides a sense of unity among unreconciled and conflicting groups to assist and debate collective image. Combining classroom and curatorial elements, to examine the dissolving relationship between design for commercial, conceptual, and political purposes, this work draws on the interplay between fields to ask artists, designers and scholars, gathered for this work, practice and think of hybrid design approaches to radically situated forms of critical contemporary modes of expression.
View the Branding Conflict show here.
Art & Basketball
Madison Brinnon (Graduate Student Catalyst)
Madison Brinnon has worked to foster a relationship between Vanderbilt Athletics and Hoopbus, a non-profit dedicated to uniting & spreading love through basketball. The Vanderbilt Women’s Basketball team will be partnering with Hoopbus to renovate and transform the basketball court at Watkins Park in Nashville. As part of this effort, Madison will oversee the creation of a student designed court mural to be painted at Watkins Park. She will hold a university wide design competition during the Fall 2022 semester, with the winning design chosen by a team of Vanderbilt leaders. The student design winner will be awarded a $500 prize provided by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The Vanderbilt community will be invited to join the Womens Basketball Team along with Hoopbus and the local community to paint the court mural in the Spring of 2023.
2 Songs for 8 People
Julian Derviche (Undergraduate Catalyst)
Julian is a creative writer studying Human Organizational Development, who has found his true calling as a musician. He has assembled a group of 7 undergraduate students from across 3 schools at Vanderbilt who will work to create and record 2 original pieces of music. These collaborations will establish connections across disciplinary, social, and institutional boundaries. His team is excited to tackle this large creative project which speaks to each person’s passions while developing a product which reflects their shared vision.
The Middle Eastern Program @ Vanderbilt
Raheleh Filsoofi (Faculty Catalyst)
As Middle Eastern artist and educator at Vanderbilt University, Raheleh sees the gap between her community and the larger Nashville community. While Nashville’s Middle Eastern population is over 20,000, the great music scene of our city does not have a solid and ongoing platform for art and music reflective of the Middle Eastern culture. Raheleh aims to create a dynamic engagement and intellectual dialogue through interactive installations and performances. While she wishes to spotlight the Middle East, Raheleh wants to avoid creating a monolithic Middle Eastern ‘Other’, instead presenting an articulated look into the many cultures, traditions, and social complexities present within the Middle East and its diaspora.
Hip Hop Public Health Nashville: Music to Save Lives
Rincon Jagarlamudi (Undergraduate Catalyst)
In partnership with Hip Hop Public Health undergraduate student Rincon Jagarlamudi created Hip Hop Nashville. The program is designed for elementary schools audiences attending Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to deliver positive health behavior change through the transformative power of music, art and science. Rincon has assembled a passionate group of students who are working with 3 local elementary schools on a weekly basis to provide students and their families with opportunities to move and groove in pursuit of good health.
New Play Readings with the Tennessee Playwrights Studio
2023 Virtual Reading Festival
Amina S. McIntyre (Undergraduate Catalyst)
Amina is one of 6 playwrights and 5 Tennessee Playwright Fellows who have spent the last year developing full-length plays. Tennessee Playwrights Studio is a development lab and theater production company founded in 2018 by Kenley Smith Molly Breen, highlighting the talents of Tennessee and showcasing stories which reflect the southern experience. During the 2023 Virtual reading festival, Amina premiered ‘Soul Sweep’. You can watch Amina’s reading, along with the other 5 participants work, here.
La Petit Mort
Philip Alex Mills (Undergraduate Catalyst)
Philip is a talented filmmaker who describes ‘La Petit Mort’ as ‘if David Lynch directed Call Me by Your Name’. This short film revolves around a closeted man’s love affair with a talking Greek sculpture designed to elevate the voices of the LGBTQIA community. Philip will collaborate with the Vanderbilt Lambda Association and the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery and two-time Emmy nominated producer Danny Tepper to bring his short to fruition.
Philip recently finished his movie, which can be viewed here.
The Woven Wind
Vesna Pavlovic (Faculty Catalyst)
The Woven Wind is a multi-layered research project drawing from artistic translations of the Lovell-Quitman archive, which documents the lives of Confederate officer William Storrow Lovell and his wife Antonia, whose father was John A, Quitman (a large slave owner and former governor of Mississippi). The archive reveals a site of painful memory and erased history of bondage. In this collaborative project, Vesna Pavlovic an interdisciplinary group of artists and scholars (including Courtney Adair-Johnson, Marlos E’van, Rod McGaHa, and Melisande Short-Colomb) explores race relations in America’s past and present, with the voices of the enslaved and their descendants amplified through artistic and genealogical research, community engagement, and academic scholarship. Interviews from these descendants combined with historical documents from the Special Collections Library at Sewanee will be combined as part of an experimental documentary film making its premiere at the 2023 Hiram Van Gordon Gallery and at the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery in 2024.
Jonathan Rattner (Faculty Catalyst)
Jonathan is working with Sarah Aziz (Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of New Mexico) to making a short film about tumbleweeds. Apart from their primary vascular system and roots, the tissues of the tumbleweed structure are dead. Yet, the tumbleweed falls apart and disperses its seeds as it travels through space. Effectively, this invasive species spreads life after death. With Professor Aziz’s assistance, Jonathan will make a poetic film that witnesses this dead species moving from place to place, unintentionally producing life, and being used as an architectural material. Jonathan is hoping to build a biodata sonification system to capture soundwaves from native New Mexican plants, such as the Juniper Savanna and Sagebrush, transforming the captured soundwaves into an the soundtrack accompanying his visuals for the film.
Adaptive Fashion Design and Production of Bespoke Capes
Alex Sargent Capps (Faculty Catalyst)
Alex Sargent Capps’ Spring 2023 Adaptive Fashion Outreach participants have partnered with Alicia Searcy, Nashville’s disabled fashion and style blogger and author of Spashionista, to design a piece of adaptive rainwear. The students have worked on design solution ideas, chosen patterns for their approaches, and made muslin mock-ups of their designs. Going forward, the Wond’ry FAB (Fiber Arts Build) Lab will turn the clothing designed by the students into a line of adaptive rainwear, which will be featured in during the 2024 Fashion is for Every Body runway show.
Bass Street Neighborhood
Angela Sutton, Ph.D. (Faculty Catalyst)
The Bass Street Neighborhood was the first, free post-Emancipation Black neighborhood in Nashville. The homes and church there were built by free Blacks and formerly enslaved people immediately after the Civil War. Many of its residents had been forced by the Union Army to build the neighboring fort, but it became the city’s first post-Emancipation free Black neighborhood. In the 1960’s most of the community was erased by the construction of Interstate 65, and the neighborhood’s significance has not been widely known. Dr. Sutton, who co-directs Fort Negley Descendant’s Projects, and her team are partnering with Dr. Andrew Wyatt of MTSU to complete a series of archeological digs. Additionally, Dr. Sutton and her students are also using a late 19th century census specific to the Bass Street neighborhood to research the descendants of those first inhabitants and build out an ancestry connection database.
Dr. Sutton recently presented her research alongside two archaeologists from MTSU at the Nashville Conference on African American History and Culture.Their 25-minute presentation of the “Oral History and Archaeology of the black Civil War Veterans, Residents, and their Descendants at the Bass Street Neighborhood, Fort Negley Park” can be viewed at the 2:20:13 mark here.
A Film Exploring the Themes of Capitalism, Ambition, Morality, and LGBTQIA+ Relations
Brendan Wendlandt (Undergraduate Catalyst)
Brendan is an accomplished filmmaker who will partner with director Nicholas Grimaldi on a film which will focus on two characters using a program to predict the results of basketball games. With the aid of the program, they place high-stakes bets, yielding great monetary results. Things take a dark turn, however, when they get involved with criminal dealers and are forced to question the lengths they will go to make money. Upon completion, the duo will submit their work into major festivals with the hope it will be successful enough to become a feature-length film.
We Breathe Together
Eric Whitmer (Undergraduate Catalyst)
Eric has created a musical project which addresses conversion therapy and its victims. Eric is senior percussion performance major at the Blair School of Music, and identifies as queer, disabled, Jewish, and a survivor of sexual violence. These identifiers are vitally important to they, and are embodied throughout Eric’s creative practice. While other musicians may not use their identity in this way, Eric desires to create social change through music is profoundly inspired by his life experience. Working with fellow musicians from the Blair School of Music Contemporary Music Ensemble class, Eric has assembled a group of six musicians to commission and perform a work from the composer Kristian de Leon. This final work allows the group to draw communal attention to conversion therapy, which is still legal in Tennessee and most of the country, and to memorialize the victims who have claimed their life because of their queerness.
We Breathe Together (for String Quartet and Vibraphone) had its world premier on November 10, 2022, featuring Kristian de Leon, Alexandra Maynard (violin), Avery Hseih (violin), Esther Zhu (viola), Catherine Choi (cello), Grace Wildermuth (bass), and Eric Whitmer (percussion).