What Does It Mean to be a Nashvillian? Ask This Nashville Artist…
It was a weekend he had been looking forward to for weeks. Yusef Hubb, a.k.a. doughjoe, a lanky teenager at the time, and his dad planned a trip to Ohio. There was an Indy Car race on the schedule, and they bonded over the loud whirring of engines, the swish of air as each car passed them.
A few days before they were set to leave, the head gasket on doughjoe’s dad’s 1982 Mercedes blew out. Not one to run to a mechanic for anything, he broke down and went to the local auto shop.
“The guy said something and my dad was like, ‘uh, uh, just give me my car back’,” DoughJoe laughed as he recalled the memory.
After putting the engine parts in the trunk, his dad drove back home and went to work. YouTube wasn’t around, so he scoured through technical guides and manuals to diagnose a solution.
“He took all of those parts and figured out how to build his engine back together, while replacing the head gaskets,” doughjoe said.
The pair made it to Ohio and back in that car.
Fixing Issues Bigger Than Himself
Watching his father take things apart and put them back together sparked a curiosity inside of doughjoe. The 33-year-old Nashville artist grew accustomed to sitting, waiting, and watching. That intensity and determination to understand complex arrangements carried through to adulthood.
He attended the University of Evansville in Indiana, where he majored in biology and cut hair for his peers on the side.
“I wasn’t just cutting hair, I was cutting hair,” doughjoe said. “I was the best barber on campus, no doubt about it.”
The artist inside of him was always there, latent but tangible, manifesting itself through every project he tackled. First, he set out to become a doctor. But he quickly shifted that dream, instead setting his sights on medical illustration.
It wasn’t until he graduated and began taking care of his ill grandma that he realized art was the path he was meant to pursue.
“I think creative people need to create,” doughjoe said.
Building His Community in Nashville
doughjoe is a part of a 4-person artist collective called ‘Norf.’ The group collaborates with other artists on a variety of installations and shows.
Through this community, doughjoe obtains inspiration when he is tapped out and support for his attempts to capture the spirit of the city. For DoughJoe, the medium he uses in his art doesn’t matter as much as the theme and the message he is trying to share.
He creates much of his public pieces to educate people on place. His place, which is specifically Nashville, has evolved from a seedling of promise to a plant in full bloom since he was a child.
“It’s telling people about Nashville. What Nashville means to me and what it means to be a black Nashvillian,” doughjoe explained about the concepts he addresses with his hands.
Currently, he’s also educating Nashville students as an apprentice teacher at the University School in Edgehill. At the institution, classrooms in each discipline conduct a study of neighborhoods in the area and how closely identity is associated with them.
Each class, depending on its subject matter, encourages the young children to consider their surroundings on a deeper level.
What is their neighborhood? What does their community look like? What does the community where they go to school look like? Through his teaching responsibilities, doughjoe helps kids see where and how they fit in the grand scheme of Nashville.
“Kids are inspiring and they like to listen,” doughjoe said. “But they also like to talk and you can learn a lot from them.”
Oftentimes, he brings his sketches into play to visualize terms and depict processes.
Outside of the classroom, however, doughjoe continues to evaluate his own identity as a black person in America and in the world. In his studio practice, he likes to explore ideas.
“Everybody has ideas, so it’s experimenting and exploring those things and just trying to figure out how to be better at communicating what I’m thinking and feeling,” doughjoe said.
Communicating the Slim & Husky’s Mission
As a commissioned artist for Slim & Husky’s, doughjoe is a vehicle for delivering hope to the underserved communities where the brand builds its establishments. With murals and designs, he celebrates the intricacies and nuances of black culture, hip hop and R&B music, and so much more.
doughjoe’s creations were a pivotal part of the first-ever Slim & Husky’s location on Buchanan Street in North Nashville. Now, he is painting his mark on the first-ever Slim & Husky’s location in Atlanta on Howell Mill Road.
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