Last summer, in the height of racial tension across our country, people took to the Atlanta BeltLine to express their frustration at the injustices faced by people of color. A temporary construction fence put up by New City Properties (across from New Realm Brewing) became an "open canvas" for artists and others, including Rastagraphy who painted a Black Lives Matter mural.
Now, a new mural is going up around the ad hoc Black Lives Matter messages. Commissioned by New City Properties and organized by Courtney Brooks, Art on the Atlanta BeltLine's first Curator-in-Residence, it is called "A Reflection of Change." The mural is being painted by 6 artists of color and diverse heritage and skills. Some are black or Puerto Rican or Asian. Some have experience painting public art. Some do not. One is a well-known tattoo artist. They are: Erica Chisolm, Eric Nine, Jiggy Korean, Lord Yatta, Michelle Kee and Ruby Chavez.
Courtney says she chose to keep the integrity of the BLM murals, including faces that dot the plywood fence, and complement them. "They left their hearts on the wall, with their concerns," she says of the BLM artists.
But she wanted to show a positive message. "I didn't want to promote grief or heartache. I wanted to bring joy. We know our lives matter. We don't always have to look at grief."
Instead, she brought in art to "celebrate our existence, to show youth that they can grow up and be artists too. There can be beautiful imagery out there."
Ruby Chavez' mural on the left side represents statues that were taken down over the summer, such as Robert E. Lee, and new ones going up, such as Rep. John Lewis in our nation's Capitol.
Ruby reimagines a historical monument as a horse with two children of color riding on top. Her mural is specifically designed for people who are blind, as well. The description will be in braille, and the painting is textured so someone can feel the shape of the images and letters.