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Creative Catalysts

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.

Branding Conflict
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.

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.

The Nashville Writers Guild
Callie Hilgenhurst (Undergraduate Catalyst)
Callie is an actor, writer, and musician who saw a need for some sort of collaborative space where song and script writers could impact each other’s creativity.  To address this concern Callie, Justin Watson and Makai Keur created Printing Press Productions. This summer, the trio held weekly Nashville Writers Guild Workshops, serving poets, playwrights, performance artists, sketch comedy writers, improv actors, songwriters and composers. Attendees responded to that week’s prompt, sharing their ideas with the entire group at the end of each session.  To close out the series, a showcase celebration feature selected workshop pieces chosen by the writers themselves will be performed. Learn more about Printing Press Productions and the Nashville Writers Guild here.

Telling the Story of Nashville Civil War Fortifications Through Story-maps
Robert Hulette (Faculty Catalyst)
The goal of this project is to create a digital educational resource where various maps of the fortifications around Civil-War era Nashville are combined with drawings, paintings, photographs, and other artistic reflections of those fortifications created in the mid-to-late 19th century to create a digital tool which brings the story of Civil War Nashville to modern audiences.

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.

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.

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.

Chiara Sulprizio, Ph.D. (Faculty Catalyst)
In partnership with the Vanderbilt University department of Classical and Mediterranean Studies, Khameleon has created a short film showcasing an all-BIPOC student production of Euripides’ ancient Greek tragedy “Medea”.  This film includes highlights from the multidisciplinary production, including a dramatic monologue inspired by Britain’s Windrush scandal, and a newly composed choral song which draws on cross-cultural influences, including Gospel and Afro-Cuban rhythms, by Francesca Amewudah-Rivers. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with creators Shivaike Shaw and Francesca Amewudah-Rivers. 

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.