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New community art project honors the women of North Nashville's past

New community art project honors the women of North Nashville's past
Posted at 5:46 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 20:45:13-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On the side of the Elizabeth Senior Center are the faces of five women from North Nashville's past.

"Even in the face of lynchings and bombings, they were showing love and care for their communities and for youth," said North Nashville resident M. Simone Boyd.

But the art installation was born out of tragedy. Following the murder of two children and an adult in 2018, neighbors in North Nashville got together searching for ways to respond to the violence.

"From there we had a few more meetings and decided that we wanted to focus on youth employment and engagement and the concept for Art Against Violence was born," Boyd said.

Several young people with Maple Built — a nonprofit that trains and mentors youth from North Nashville — crafted the 8,000-piece mosaic of Curlie McGruder.

"So after the early gangs of the civil rights movement she wasn't satisfied with just voting rights, being invited to certain banquets," said Boyd. "She wanted economic justice."

The project was then stalled for three years, but now four more women finally join McGruder on the wall. They were Civil Rights activists, suffragists, mothers and women of North Nashville.

"So the five women who are featured here — several of their family members — still live in the neighborhood, several family members are still serving the community," said Boyd.

One of those family members is Alisha Haddock.

Nora Ransom worked at St. Thomas, raised eleven children and was Haddock's grandmother.

"Memorials are not for the people that are passed on," said Haddock. "Memorials are for people that are living."

Like the thousands of tiny pieces that make up each portrait, she says these faces are a reminder of those who came before her.

"Because with all of the new development, all of the new construction, sometimes that history can get lost," said Haddock. "But with these murals, there's no way we can forget where we came from."

The artwork will be on display until the fall of 2023.