TONE: Incubator of Hope for Black Authenticity, Creativity, and Culture

Located in Orange Mound, TONE elevates Black artists creating culture. Check out TONE for their exhibitions, concerts, talks, readings, round-tables, and more. This blog focuses on the latest exhibition - Brick x Brick: A Billion Pounds of Cultivation.

Photo of inside tone showing the brick x brick activation. There is first on the ground with shovels and the outline of a greenhouse in the background
Carmen Monet

What is TONE?

TONE is an incubator of hope; that encourages Black authenticity, creativity, and culture through
communal engagement and exhibitions.

That’s exactly what TONE is; however, more than that it is a feeling to experience. So let’s walk
through what it feels like.

Located in the heart of Orange Mound, at 2234 Lamar Ave, lies the TONE HQ gallery.

Here, instead of dancing to the beat of your own drum, you can dance to the beats created by
local Black producers, under the disco ball, and “juke” as you so please.

While we get to listen to these artists' mix and master their way into our hearts, this moment for
Black producers is exposure: a space for them to showcase their beats, some for the very first

exterior photo of TONE. strip mall look with big red letters on glass windows saying TONE
Carmen Monet

TONE saw the need, and closed the gap.

The opportunity to create art is limitless, but the opportunity to display it is limited, for Black creatives; so TONE provides these creatives with the space to share their art with the community.

Cultivating TONE was not a want, but it was filling a need.

There are moments where we are laughing loudly and creating memories with the people we love, and there are also moments of quiet, where you get to stand in admiration of the artwork in the gallery, created by Black artists.

In these moments, we pose the question, “what was the inspiration behind this piece?” The answer continues to be: the plethora of Black people and their untold stories finally having the space to be heard.

inside TONE. Looks like a corner of an art exhibit. Two black and white photos hang on one wall. An old looking large cloth in black and white hangs on a  separate wall
Carmen Monet

More than a gallery, it’s a community.

As you walk through the doors, you are greeted with the smell of mulch; seen in a pile on the back of a truck to represent the distribution of produce. 

Because in the current interactive exhibition, Brick X Brick: A Thousand Pounds of Cultivation, TONE is focusing on how to restore and heal the community through its relationship with food.

Photo of Curator Kylon Wagner. He is wearing all black with tan shoes shitting in a yellow chair
Kai Celeste Ross

Could you explain your creative process as you were curating this exhibition, Brick X Brick: A Thousand Pounds of Cultivation, for TONE’s participation in the 2023 Tennessee Triennial, under the theme: repair?

“I first asked myself what "repair" looks like to me, and potentially the community around me. I felt like this was a great opportunity to talk about the processes around healing and repair in the Black community, which lead me to food. It's something everyone on this planet more or less has to consume in order to survive. It is literally our fuel. So I asked myself, what does it look like when we take back our relationship with food as a means of repairing self and people around us,” said Kylon Wagner, curator at TONE.

a see through window has hand drawn decorations on it from a tree to colored triangles
Carmen Monet

So here we are, its opening night, and each of us were able to be a part of the exhibition itself. 

As we looked at the wooden framework of the empty greenhouse, we realized that we were a part of its creation.

First, choose the color that you want to paint with and then you begin to fill the empty glass with colors, feelings, and words that inspire you and once finished, they place the newly decorated glass on the wooden framework.

Our attention is called to listen to the words of Mama Sundry, and as we stand together, she speaks of those that came before us to remind us of why we are here today.

photo of a white truck with trees growing out the bed of it.
Carmen Monet

Finally, the last piece of the puzzle. Planting the produce.

Touch the soil, let it slip through your fingers, feel the grains under your nails, grab a pot, choose your seed, plant your produce, and then place your pot into the greenhouse.

Today, we have laid the foundations, today we lay the first brick.

TONE is the space that you can teach and learn, honor and grow; knowing where you have come from to know where you are going.

Walking through the doors of TONE feels like you are walking back home.

And home is not a place, but a feeling of comfort, acceptance, and encouragement.


2234 Lamar Ave. 

About the Author

Hey guys, I’m Carmen Monèt. I am a native Memphian who got into journalism with one purpose: to provide a voice and a platform for those often overlooked. I hope that my writing inspires you to experience the culture of Memphis.

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