This conversation, as part eight in our weekly Nashville Quilt Project round-up, features Oasis Center client Hodo. The Nashville Quilt Project is a 50-foot mural located on Charlotte Pike for which founders Jake and Hana Elliott, photographer Elizabeth Ratliff, and I partnered with four nonprofits to highlight their exceptional arts programming post-national budget cuts. Through the Oasis Center’s Teen Outreach Program, Hodo discovered the Underground Art Studio—a safe space for participants to tap into their creative energy through a variety of activities including painting, music, photography, and writing. Through the Underground Art Studio, which facilitates direct connections between students and circumstances in which they can create street art, Hodo discovered the Nashville Quilt Project. Her piece praises Nashville for welcoming different walks of life. Native or not, she has always felt valued as a member of the community. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hodo: I am 17 years old and from Somalia, which I left at age five to move to Ethiopia. From there, my family and I relocated to the United States where we’ve lived in Memphis, New York and now Nashville.

Why Nashville?

Hodo: There are lots of job opportunities here for people like my aunt who wanted to work in the medical industry.

Are you currently in school?

Hodo: Yes, I’m a senior at Glenn Cliff High School. Through my friends there I learned about the Oasis Center’s ITOP Program. They knew that I loved to draw and paint in my spare time.

When do you most often practice art?

Hodo: When I’m bored I tend to doodle. (Laughs) Art is one of my favorite activities but I only see it as being a hobby in my future.

Why don’t you see yourself pursuing it as a career?

Hodo: I’m very passionate about design and therefore, want to become an engineer or an architect.

Can you tell us a bit about your piece for the Nashville Quilt Project?

Hodo: I painted a city scene with the sun setting over all of the tall buildings. My intention was to represent the urban, multicultural environment with which I associate Nashville. You naturally feel comfortable here if you are from a more diverse background, which I am, and is one of the reasons I love it here. I feel like I fit in and am accepted.

Conversation by Jake Elliott of WHAT.Creative Group // edited by Lily Clayton Hansen

Portrait by Elizabeth Ratliff

Learn more about the Oasis Center’s Underground Art Studio here

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Lily C Hansen

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