Shabazz Larkin Introduces The Museum of Presence

Every story starts with a clean slate. In our minds, we want the rise to the top to be linear, but that’s not always the case. It has its ups and downs that challenges our reason(s) for starting, especially if not right away. How could something so simple to dream seem so difficult to achieve? Is the process ever finished and are we satisfied? Who knows if that question can ever be answered. As long as our hearts still beats, the beauty is within the journey. My mistake— within the moment. Not only do our lives in motion paint who we are to the canvas of the world, most importantly, our palette is every breath we take. When every moment is put together, we exhibit ourselves remarkably just like art.

Exploring the Museum of Presence unlocks this amazement. A great platform that provides an innovative experience for viewers to have a better understanding of community and mindfulness The Museum of Presence conveys. More importantly, Shabazz created this medium intentionally for black and brown artists and space-makers to share their stories. Another way for them to shine.

The Passion of Art

It was something in the water for Shabazz growing up. The culture of go-go music and influence of Pharrell Williams made being an artist natural for him. While in college studying communications, he remembers learning the role of an art director. Shabazz thought at the time, “I like art. I can do that.” This simple assurance dedicated twenty years of his life to advertising. Working with clients like P. Diddy and Barack Obama were part of the perks. In addition, his notoriety earned him money, awards, and accolades from corporate climbing, which fueled his drive constantly. And then one day, he wondered how he would be if God was his client. The struggle to answer revealed how much the industry drained him and how his passion for art should be used for love.

Valuing Art Nashville

Leaving the advertising industry renewed his focus toward social impact creatively. His ambition chasing ‘success’ turned into a love for enriching the community narrative. This liberation helped Shabazz to figure out ways to magnify supporting the art community, especially in Nashville. Every city with an art movement grapples with how to support local artists. City leaders understand the culture and the fire it sparks to an out-of-town visitor. With the cost of living increasing here, little to no recognition can leave artists struggling to survive.

The opportunity for the black art community to band together is what Shabazz promotes in the Museum of Presence. Not just in visual art, but different types such as dance, spoken word, and theatre.

“That’s why we have Reaux Marquez and Mike Floss and Elisheba Mrozik and Omari Booker and Brittany Boyd Bullock. Amazing artists like them and BIPOC artists paints an authentic tapestry of our creative community.”

Never Done Before

The Museum of Presence plants the reader in a different, yet mindful state that is hard to receive in the Sunday paper. The flow from one feature to the next feature is better than a walk through the Frist. Meditative in a sense, as the features glues you to the here and now. The attention span draws in the variety of media channels for stories. Heartfelt testimonies told through stunning visuals. Some Spotlights broadcast the ‘need to know’ through podcast episodes. QR codes, once scanned, open another corridor of creative rollouts to take in. Truly, an art exhibit in a newspaper.

What makes The Museum of Presence revolutionary is not just its innovative presentation, but the power of the newspaper comes from the free expression of stories not constricted to a black and white gatekeeping. Conversations of art and impact converses beyond the mainstream perception of the city and amplifies the colorful voice of black and brown artists. A new way for an evolving Nashville to support the community and bring more value to the arts.

Future Works

As far as what’s next for The Museum of Presence, the experience will carry tangible editions of the newspaper in coffee shops and social hubs starting in July. Their latest podcast episode went live this past Juneteenth. The Museum of Presence comes to life with Shabazz as the host, sharing intimate conversations with notable creatives and their journey. Available on Spotify and YouTube. Click to learn more.

Photography: Joseph Ross


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