Julia Martin Gallery / 444 Humphreys St. June 17, 2017 - June 28, 2017

Jessi Zazu, Kathy Wariner


Jessi Zazu has been a staple of Nashville's music scene, a social justice advocate and an across-the-board creative force for many years. If you're not familiar with her story, you will be very soon. Look for features in the upcoming issues of Nashville Arts Magazine, The Nashville Scene, Native and The Tennessean.

Jessi and her mother, Kathy, have long looked to creativity and the visual arts in times of struggle. This past year brought with it an intense battle for Jessi against an aggressive form of cancer. The battle continues and through it, in tandem, these women have created two powerful bodies of work.

We chose Mother's Day to announce this special, pop-up exhibition. The proceeds will go towards mounting medical bills and hopefully inspire any and all who have faced similar battles, or battles yet to come.

*** We would like to request that attendees forego any perfumes, scents or colognes *** 

Ongoing treatments have made Jessi extremely sensitive to smells and we want her to enjoy herself as much as possible.


"When my radiation oncologist asked me to create artwork for the room where I had received brachytherapy radiation, I was honored, but I also felt a great responsibility. I thought about the challenges I had faced before ever reaching the room, and how every woman who ends up there has already survived a long and sometimes painful journey. I remember the anxiety that ran through my mind during the first session. My eyes darted around the room, looking for something to help me gain mental footing to get through. All I could find were a few security cameras, beige wallpaper and outdated paintings. The session only lasted eight minutes, but I felt isolated. I was alone in a lead-lined room, hooked up to a powerful machine with lots of lights and noises. I brought my sketchbook in with me a few times, and even though I was partially immobile during the radiation, I laid back and drew everything I could see. Making art helped me get through that experience, and I created these pieces to give hope to anyone who spends time in the room after me. 

A wise woman once asked me, "Do you know what self-efficacy is?" I didn’t, but when I learned that it meant believing in one’s ability to succeed, I realized I needed to nurture it in myself. In that moment, I chose to see beyond my personal series of unfortunate events and connect to the human condition. Life happens to all of us, we all face challenges and setbacks. It is how we react that defines us. We have a lot more power than we think we do. We also have a lot less power than we think we do. Fighting cancer has been an education in knowing when to push back and when to surrender. By choosing positivity and love at every corner, I decided to triumph, even in my own defeats."


"We found out a year ago that Jessi was sick, quite a shock. I decided from the start that I had two choices, to be positive or to be negative. We spent the whole year trying to stay up and keep distracted. Jessi had a studio at one end of the house and I had mine at the other end. The experience [of Jessi’s illness] was getting so intense that I started painting in every spare moment I had. It wasn’t long before my nightmares and sleepless nights went away. My attitude was better and I could breathe. My art became about healing and not feeling hopeless, and about celebrating life."

UNDEFEATED is made possible by the generosity of Midtown Printing, Woodcuts Framing Gallery, and Kangaroo Press.