How can murals help the urban landscape and its history?

“Putting a Good Face on Street Art, to Upgrade Atlanta” in Friday’s New York Times, profiled the activities of Living Wall’s 2012 program. The project creates murals around Atlanta in blighted areas.  This year, LW focused exclusively on female artists, and invited 28 artists from around the world to contribute artwork.  In addition to the art-making, there are lectures, a street fair, and other related activities. It sounds like a lot of fun. I like that LW not only makes murals but also programs around the art for larger impact and meaning.

I can’t help but think of Philly’s Mural Arts Project, which has created hundreds of murals around the city, many of them in the neighborhoods. And unlike LW’s murals, from what I can tell, most of these murals were designed collaboratively with neighbors and their visual content often linked to the identity of those neighborhoods. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Living Walls.

I would love to see Living Walls undertake a history-related set of activities that illustrated and commemorated some of the lost histories of Atlanta, like those documented in the Edgewood-Candler Park Bi-Racial History Project, places and people that the current landscape, whether blighted or gentrified, effaces.

Murals have a tremendous power not only to communicate ideas, but to activate historical imagination and create and mark a sense of place.

More on murals and history soon!

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