The Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville proudly announces the selection of the 2021 Class of Periscope: Artist Entrepreneur Training, an annual program that empowers working artists to see their creative practice through an entrepreneurial lens. This year’s class consists of 25 artists working in an array of disciplines including visual art, fashion/textile, music, public art, film and more.
Artists are selected for Periscope through a competitive application process and scored by community panelists including leading artists, curators, musicians, and creative entrepreneurs in Nashville’s arts, culture and business sectors. Periscope artists participate in eight weeks of entrepreneurial training followed by six months of individualized mentorship with a high-caliber business mentor.
The program culminates at the Periscope Pitch + Artist Entrepreneur Showcase in September where artist entrepreneurs will unveil their creative businesses to the community.
Meet the Periscope Class of 2021:
Drama/Theatre/Performance Art, Dance, Fashion/Textiles, Film/Television, Multi-Disciplinary, Public Art/Creative Placemaking
Bliss (they/them/theirs) is a Black and Latinx, nonbinary queer being living in and cultivating community and culture in Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; and the Appalachian Region. They have lived in Nashville for over a decade; focusing on passions of film and multimedia production, creative direction, local art spaces, modeling, and holding the title of Nashville’s Regional Producer for the Moth.
They have spoken on numerous panels, hosted workshops, been featured twice and interviewed for Salty, remains the Arts and Activism Director for local nonprofit — Youth Empowerment Through Arts & Humanities [YEAH!], and a consultant for local activist organisations.
Learning from their own experiences and wanting so much to connect the complex communities in a developing — yet heavily gentrified city, they organized Bliss and the Trash Plants. It began as a means of making plant joy a bit more accessible to friends and to lower waste; evolving further into a community project that focuses on food security by means of gleaning — the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, and redistributing. All collected supplies are arranged into kits for various-sized households of BIPOC.
Bliss works to build a more clear network for Black people, people of color, queer folx, trans beings, and the intersections of all these communities (QTBIPOC) to connect to one another in order to create opportunities and growth, find resources for people’s finances and housing, support or counseling, and all-around healthier living. Most importantly, find ways to nourish others as well as give others a voice!
When they take a break, Bliss can be found either curled up with their cat, watching anime, reading, talking to their plants, and giggling with friends. And yes, Bliss does attempt to do that all at once—it almost works out.
Film/Television, VR/360 content development
Bradley Montesi is a multi-media content director focusing on short-form commercial video across new and emerging platforms. Most recently converting ad dollars into the meme-generation space during the pandemic when productions were not able to physically happen. Montesi’s career covers eighteen years total experience in film and television, covering the dawn of independent filmmaking through the monetization of social media platforms, with nine years in results-driven brand content.
Originally from Nashville, Montesi was active in the booming Austin indie film industry, where he worked in production administration and execution on the projects “Sin City 2”, “Machete Kills”, and “From Dusk Till Dawn” the TV series. Since then, he has had success with his signature use of practical effects and innovative use of puppetry, creating an unmistakable visual style.
His creative philosophy is grounded in reverse-engineering the branded outcome of his projects, leading to their effectiveness and the success of his clients’ goals.
Visual Art/Wearable Ceramics
Cassis Pitman, a ceramic artist, has her BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art. For over a decade, her work has highlighted imperfections and mishaps that can happen during the creative process. Cassis fell in love with ceramic production when she started working at Red Rock Tileworks in Nashville, TN. It wasn’t long before she began to hoard the “seconds” tile that was slated for the dumpster. The Tile Tower was born from a desire to give these imperfect tiles a second life and share them with her community and beyond.
Hunter Perschbacher is a writer and director working in Nashville, TN. Born in Rogers, Arkansas, Hunter was a writer from a young age and, after moving to the Nashville area his senior year of high school, added filmmaking to his list of passions. Hunter earned a BFA in Digital Filmmaking from the Art Institute of TN – Nashville, and now owns Omega Pictures LLC, a production company specializing in films, documentaries, and music videos. Hunter strives for pure visual narratives – apocalyptic film-parables produced for the common era. Currently, Hunter is completing work on his feature film debut, the science-fiction film Day 7.
Jamila “Mimi” McCarley
Music, Music Publishing, Business Development
Hailing from Dayton, Ohio, home of funk music, Mimi grew up in a musically inclined family with singers and musicians in the music industry. With her eyes set on the entertainment business at an early age, she spent her life developing her gifts and figuring out where they made the most sense. With a background in mass communications and songwriting, a Recording Industry Management degree from Middle Tennessee State University, and a 10-year career in the Insurance & Financial Service industry, she finally settled on embarking on a career in songwriting for synch.
As a songwriter seeking to develop a commercially viable catalog for synch, Mimi started Collab Music Network in 2015, a network for songwriters, producers, engineers, and artists to develop commercially viable catalogs for synch placements. She quickly realized that finishing a record required more than writing the song. Out of necessity, she had to get into production, post-production, and putting together production teams who could help her finish records. Her songwriting and production credits begin with a variety of records being pitched for synch placements, which led to working with Nashville-based artist 2 Live Bre and eventually working with many more artists and songwriters.
Mimi became known for mentoring, nurturing, and supporting independent creatives, brands and projects. After working so closely with the independent artist community, Mimi saw a hole in the market that led to providing independent artist/label support services including strategic planning, career, brand, project development, and publishing services.
Her unique skill set for business and music afforded her opportunities to partner with Nashville-based startups including Nashville is not Just Country Music, Guidance Whiskey, and We Own Now because of her love for entrepreneurism and recognizing the necessary support needed to launch new ideas, products, and businesses.
Mimi is inspired by people who have the audacity to believe in themselves. She seeks to use her skills and talents to partner with efficacious, legacy-minded entrepreneurs who have a vision to impact the world.
Jammie Williams is a sculptor and painter who lives in middle Tennessee. He studied art at Watkins College of Art and Design as well as Tennessee State University. Later, he worked as a sculptor’s assistant for 9 and a half years and then spent 3 years as an in-house artist for OZ Arts Nashville. While there, he created over one hundred paintings and collaborated on over four hundred other works.
Jammie has also sculpted 18 reliefs for the Country Music Hall of Fame with three others slated for 2021. In 2016 the Tennessee Arts Commission and Tennessee Craft awarded him to teach in the Master Artist Apprenticeship Program. In 2020 his painting ”Fool’s Cap” was judged into the Red Clay Survey Exhibition of Contemporary Southern Art in the Huntsville Museum of Art. Currently, he is the caretaker of an 11-acre property in Cheatham county where he lives and works.
Film/Television, Music, Visual Art
Janelle Faiman moved to Nashville over ten years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a songwriter. That dream has evolved over the years and she is currently making a documentary and eagerly entering into the film world. Janelle grew up in rural Minnesota on a farm and attended the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis where she received a BA in sociology/anthropology. She spent a year living in Hawaii before coming to Nashville, which started her love affair with adventure and travel. She has spent the last decade touring and performing, both solo and with a band, all over the US and some in Europe. Janelle currently lives in Joelton, TN with her wife and two tiny dogs, Tiny Dog Mittens and Chandler Bing. She enjoys dismantling the patriarchy and believes that the representation of underrepresented populations in all media is the path forward.
Jenny grew up in the foothills of Mt Ranier near Seattle Washington and has resided in Nashville for the last 15 years. She earned a BA in Visual Communications with an emphasis in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design and is currently working on a double MFA in Painting and Photography at SCAD. She is passionate about painting, fine art, fashion/editorial and portrait photography. She has been the owner and operator of Splendid Image Studios for the past six years. She writes for L’Original Ms. Petite Art History Blog and US Fencing Magazine, and, she is currently working on research for a project with the Camille Claudel Museum in Paris, France, as well as personal research for future art history documentaries she would like to direct and produce.
Multi-Disciplinary, Visual Art
Karen Matkosky was born in Los Angeles, California, on October 21, 1986. She and her family moved to Nashville in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake. While she was always drawn to the arts, it wasn’t until high school that Karen began to understand her true abilities and her inherent need for art. Through photography, photorealistic drawings, paintings, and collage, Karen created a series of images addressing difficult emotions and issues she and her loved ones experienced. Art became her outlet, her therapy, and a fulfilling way to make a statement. In 2008 Karen received a BFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design. In 2011 she continued her studies in France, pursuing a degree in Graphic Design. After a year she returned to Nashville and began to work as a freelance designer, completing her BFA in Graphic Design at Watkins College of Art in 2020.
Keisha Becerra is an artist living in Rutherford County, TN. The child of two military officers, this artist grew up traveling the world. Her early exposure to diverse cultures and people influenced all parts of her art. Throughout her travels as a child, she often drew illustrations of her surroundings’ people and cultures, finding the little unique things that made her subject matter beautiful. Keisha’s love of people and culture led her to become an educator, eventually earning her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership. But her passion for art was never far away; she often found ways to use art to educate and inspire. When Keisha was not educating she freelanced as an illustrator for companies such as Resilient Walker and a twice-featured artist for Pixit LLC. In 2019, Keisha launched XavierArts.com, publishing multiple multicultural art books, stationery, and surface pattern designs.
Kyshona has always lent her voice and music to those that feel they have been silenced or forgotten. She began her career as a music therapist, writing her first songs with her patients–the students and inmates under her care. She soon found the need to write independently and find her own voice, an endeavor that led her to the fertile ground of the Nashville creative community and songwriting culture.
Since then, she has learned how to balance her music career with her passion to heal the hurting through therapeutic songwriting. When she is not touring, Kyshona spends her time helping veterans, youth, the incarcerated and the isolated turn their stories into songs.
Lindsy Davis is an American artist known for her gesture and negative space work that push and pull the eyes’ perception of space and depth. Lindsy works prolifically in series, her compositions question ideas of perceived perception through Gestaltism. Lindsy has shown internationally, was a National Parks Artist in Residence during their centennial year, she is featured in collections throughout the nation, Canada and South Africa. She has worked with world-renowned artists Ibrahim Miranda and William Kentridge. She is a recipient of the National Artist Relief Grant. Lindsy received her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/ Tufts University in Boston Massachusetts in 2014. She was raised in northern New Jersey, born in 1990, and currently lives and works in Nashville, Tennessee. Lindsy is represented by The Red Arrow Gallery in Nashville.
Public Art, Creative Placemaking
After spending many years on the west coast, Lyndy loves living in Nashville. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, she moved here to be closer to her family.
She loves hiking, making pottery, baking, and adventures with her dog, Fernie. She is currently the Creative Director on The Clay Lady’s Campus.
She created Firefly Artisan Fair in 2017 for Nashville artists like herself, who make handmade art and want to show their work in a public space, maybe for the first time. She hopes to give opportunities to artisans in a safe and mentoring environment. She believes Periscope can help take Firefly Artisan Fair to the next level
Fashion/Textiles, Multi-Disciplinary, Visual Art
Monya Nikahd is a weaver, craftsman, and multimedia artist. She is originally from Nashville, TN, but has spent the past four years in rural Tennessee, focusing and evolving her craft. She recently completed a BFA in Fibers from Tennessee Technological University, at the Appalachian Center for Craft.
Her weaving process is intuitive and involves inventive and experimental processes. She uses unconventional media with textiles including woodworking, encasing, and textile manipulation. Her life-long interest in textiles is connected to growing up in Iranian American culture. She finds her inspiration from the women of the Bauhaus school, old Persian and Asian textile design, and digital/technological aesthetics.
Natalie Jean is a Haitian singer/songwriter that specializes in Americana music. She can sing in English, French, Spanish and Creole. Natalie Jean has been nominated for and won many awards for her music including 12 nominations at the 2020 Josie Music Awards, in which she won “World Artist of The Year” and “Versatile Artist of The Year”. She has also won two Gold medals at the Global Music Awards. Natalie is now a voting member in the Recording Academy, the organization that hosts the Grammys each year.
Natalie does not follow any guidelines or rules when she writes her music. She utilizes a vast array of genres when writing, trying to break down the barriers that usually constrict Americana musicians. She stays true to herself writing and singing from her heart and soul, trying to create music that makes a difference, music that people can take to heart and feel connected to.
Natalie Jenè Reid
Natalie Jenè is a Black-owned, hand-crafted fashion brand out of Nashville, TN. Natalie Jené is not only the owner but she is also the designer, curator and muse! Her exclusive pieces create a new lane for men and women who recognize that the sky’s the limit and wish to push the envelope with innovation and creativity. From custom pieces to staple sets, Natalie Jené delivers authenticity and originality in every stitch. With the help of her team, Natalie Jené is committed to providing exceptional unique service and bringing your fashion dreams to life!
Rachel Karr (b. 1982) is a painter and photographer living in East Nashville, TN with her husband, daughter, twin sons, and cats. While working towards her BFA at Austin Peay University, Rachel began experimenting with a unique process of glazing with pigments and has continued to develop and deepen her method over the past decade. Driven by a reverence for our environment and the universe that holds it, her work uses luminous cosmic imagery to add celestial dimension to subjects in the natural world, promoting conservation awareness, highlighting endangered species, and posing urgent questions about the gravity of human impact in our world and the space beyond.
Rebecca Titus is a writer and visual artist from Baltimore, Maryland. When she moved to Nashville in late 2019, the city inspired her to capture the sound and feeling of live music through improvised sketches and paintings. When the pandemic hit, her creative trajectory took another turn: Rebecca is now drawing on her multimedia background in order to explore the connections between art, research, and sensory experience. She believes that interdisciplinary collaboration between the arts and the sciences can help us meet the urgent, overlapping hardships we now face as a collective. Her writing can be found in Cleaver, Foundry, After the Pause, Susquehanna Review, Mount Hope, The Hollins Critic, and elsewhere. Rebecca received her MFA from Hollins University in 2018.
Drama/Theatre/Performance Art, Multi-Disciplinary, Music, Visual Art
Reza Filsoofi is a multi-instrumentalist, born in Tehran, Iran.
Filsoofi commenced his musical journey in Iran, under the tutelage of master musicians.
Since Filsoofi moved to the United States in 2001 he has been actively teaching and performing in different venues. His versatile musical styles combined with his expansive knowledge of different classical instruments, have given him opportunities to collaborate with artists and musicians in various projects.
Filsoofi currently lives in Nashville. He is the director of the Caravan Ensemble which promotes Iranian music and culture in the United States.
Sarah is a painter who is drawn to narrative portrayals of everyday moments and compositions that pose questions for the viewer. She is inspired by her life as a mother of two children and is a quiet observer of the details.
Sarah is largely self-taught. After moving to Nashville in 2009, her second child was born and diagnosed with special needs – including intellectual disabilities and autism. To help manage the resulting complexity and balance the needs of her family, Sarah became a stay-at-home mom. In so doing, she increasingly leaned into her artwork as a means of capturing and processing emotions. In recent years, Sarah has painted murals in the hallways of the Susan Gray School, and she has sketched and painted scenes from her daily life while waiting in the offices of doctors and therapists around Nashville. Before the pandemic, she regularly attended classes and open studios in and around Nashville. She currently is working on the 100-day project, a daily practice where she creates 10 works on a single theme.
From Houston to New York to Nashville, Stephcynie (pronounced stef-sih-nee) is an independent storyteller who uses a unique blend of smoky, enchanting vocals and a rare artistic transparency to captivate her audience.
Stephcynie’s music reflects real-life issues that resonate with a universal audience. A graduate from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, she aims to bring substance-filled music back into a commercial light by showcasing her sonic versatility and unique lyrical style. Her ability to find the delicate balance between musicality and simplicity transforms her music into a fully immersive experience.
Featured on Billboard.com in 2016, Soul Train, The Nashville Scene Singersroom, Soulhead, and Rapfest, Stephcynie continues to push musical boundaries. Having performed with iconic artists such as Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award winner Christopher Cross, the legendary John Oats (Hall & Oats), and rising icons Maren Morris and Lauren Alaina, Stephcynie is undoubtedly an artist whose journey you want to be a part of.
Terrell Johnson is an African American artist living in Middle Tennessee. He is an extremely passionate and hard-working individual with many large-scale pieces in and around the middle Tennessee area. With no focus in one particular area, he remains versatile and ready for new challenges. His art is loud and colorful in hopes of creating a positive influence on the youth and helping beautify that particular area for years to come. In December of 2020, Terrell finished his largest project to date. He was contracted to complete 9 individual murals on 9 Domino’s Pizza buildings across the state of Tennessee.
Drama/Theatre/Performance Art, Dance, Multi-Disciplinary
Tosha Marie has a passion for performance and has been dancing, singing, and acting since the age of 5 on stage and screen. She has been in numerous stage productions, industrials, commercials, TV shows, music videos, and films throughout her career. Although she enjoys performing, Tosha’s focus is on dance education as well as directing, choreographing and creating in the Musical Theatre world. She has taught at many universities, schools, and studios in Nashville and beyond. This year, Tosha opened a performing arts training program called TMproductions; A non-traditional studio education setting, where different levels of performers are able to train with Nashville professionals for a career in Musical Theater beyond the high school stage. Dance is the main focus of the training, but with acting and vocal coaching as a part of the training package, it’s a one-stop shop to start claiming your triple threat status!
Ty Swint is a lifestyle blogger and self-proclaimed hopeful romantic that shares our cities most romantic places, date night style and lots of love.
As a blogger, photographer and interviewer, Ty has had the wonderful opportunities to cover events such as Nashville Fashion Week, The American Black Film Festival, Sweetwater 420 Festival, the Music Business Association Conference and the Forecastle Festival. At these events, Ty had the pleasure of interviewing Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man, Oscar winner and costume designer for Black Panther, Ruth. E. Carter, music stars Reba McEntire and Maren Morris, photographing music artist Ludacris and more.
The hopeful romantic’s goal is to infuse more talks of romance and love via her future interviews along with capturing our cities most romantic places and more. Ty seeks to make The Love Channel with Ty a sweet little slice of cyberspace that shares, encourages and inspires all things love.
Tyler Champion is a freelance illustrator and designer. He grew up in Kentucky before moving to New Jersey to develop his passion at The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic art. After graduating in 2010 he headed back south to Nashville, TN where he currently resides with his girlfriend, and two sons.
Tyler has produced work for magazines, comics, design companies, and children’s books; including work for Sony Music, F(r)iction magazine, Capstone Publishing, and Tell-a-graphics.