Alex Braden to Create Art for I-65/Arthur Avenue Underpass

Alex Braden selected to design immersive public artwork for North Nashville underpass.

The Metro Nashville Arts Commission has chosen Alex Braden to design, create, and install an engaging public artwork under the I-65/Arthur Avenue Underpass in North Nashville’s Council District 21. Braden is a multidisciplinary artist known for using new media—such as light, sound, sculpture, and installation—to craft unique and unexpected spaces. His work has appeared in publications like Hyperallergic, the Washington Post, SPIN, Noisey, and NPR.

Titled “Be As Water,” Braden’s proposed art installation aims to address the impact on the North Nashville community caused by the construction of the interstate, which divided the neighborhood. The installation will feature advanced LED lighting to improve underpass illumination, along with custom benches and murals, in response to residents’ requests for better lighting.

Scheduled for completion in 2025, the installation will be part of the Metro Public Art Collection. The final design will be refined with community input and guidance from Metro Arts, the Nashville Department of Transportation, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. This project will contribute to Metro Arts’ goal of reaching over 250 public artworks by the end of 2025.

Braden expressed his gratitude, stating, “I am so very humbled and honored that the residents of this remarkable neighborhood have entrusted me with transforming this long-neglected site into a creatively lit, multi-sensory, and artistically immersive space of reflection, celebration, and hope. This project exists because of a years-long labor of love by M. Simone Boyd and a generations-long labor of endurance by the elders and their families.”

Residents are invited to a community engagement event on Saturday, July 13 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Morgan Park to hear directly from Braden and preview the design.

The $500,000 project is funded by $400,000 from the Percent for Art fund and $100,000 from the Nashville Department of Transportation. It was initiated with a $75,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant, in collaboration with Nashville artist and activist M. Simone Boyd, Project Return, the Nashville Department of Transportation, and Metro Arts.

NDOT Director Diana Alarcon commented, “We’re so grateful to the community and the many partners who came together to make this project a reality. From area resident Simone Boyd to Project Return, the Metro Arts Commission, our partners at TDOT and more, this has truly been a group effort that shows how fun and creative transportation projects can be.”

The NEA supports projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities to strengthen communities, aiming for sustainable systems change.

For more details on the community engagement and design process, follow Metro Arts on their social media channels and email newsletter.

About Metro Arts: Nashville Office of Arts + Culture

Metro Arts aims to foster a vibrant and equitable community through the arts, ensuring all Nashvillians have access to a creative life. They achieve this through community investments, artist and organizational training, public art, and direct arts and culture programs. More information about Metro Nashville’s public art collection is available at Public Art Collection. Read Metro Arts’ cultural equity statement at Arts Equity Statement.

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