Living Walls, the City Speaks

By Anna Norris
Staff Writer

Ornate geometrical patterns and splashes of vibrant orange paint fill the silhouette of a fox, contrasting brightly against the dull fading wall of a Cabbagetown building.

For Trek Matthews, it started with a drawing. Then, buying paint, projecting the silhouette of the image onto the building, buffing the area to be painted, free handing the rest, and finally the painting process. The final result: one of many captivating murals in Atlanta.

“For that particular wall, I just had to project for an hour to buff out the silhouette, then the rest was referenced from a drawing that I did and I free-handed on the wall,” says Matthews. “It was on and off for 12 days.”

Matthews, an art major at Georgia State, completed his first public mural on March 29 but he has been working with Living Walls, the City Speaks, since last summer.

“As things became more and more urbanized, people became less and less about the environment,” says Matthews. “The fact of the matter is that all of these places at some point or another were these purely natural landscapes.”

Matthews says that his art is homage to things before the city.

Many other Georgia State students also work with Living Walls, a nonprofit organization that promotes street art.

Albert Lebron, an art major studying film, has been documenting the street art process with Living Walls.

Lebron attributes his ability to do the videos for Living Walls to his last film class at Georgia State. He says he has learned to edit using Final Cut and how to brand his videos.

Lebron says he has done three videos for Living Walls so far. The most recent one, featuring Trek Matthews and LaPandilla, used small cameras on the wrists of the artists to show a close-up of the detail put into these walls.

“It’s the one time you actually feel like them,” says Lebron.

Laurance Fauconnet, a political science major with a concentration in international affairs, is currently assisting Living Walls’ Director of Finance, Sarah Arnason, in helping the organization become a federal nonprofit.

Arnason is a Georgia State alumnus, having received her Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. Arnason and Fauconnet both say that they have used what they have learned in their classes to help Living Walls become a nonprofit.

Fauconnet says that since Living Walls has become nonprofit, the status has legitimized the organization, which helps to set the murals apart from graffiti art in the city.

Fauconnet says that his interest in nonprofit organizations stems from his desire to make a difference in the community. He says that nonprofits are the most direct way to help the community.

“Urbanization is something that’s necessary,” says Fauconnet. “If you’re going to be happy living in an urban community, you want that urban community to be someplace that is appealing aesthetically. You want to feel comfortable there. You want to see things that are beautiful.”

Fauconnet says that with its murals on Edgewood Avenue, Living Walls has inspired the Edgewood community to flourish.

He volunteered to organize Living Walls’ benefit “The Edgewood Stroll”, which took place on April 3. Along with the other members of his team, Fauconnet handled everything from lighting to contacting the owners of the four bars featured in the stroll, Noni’s, the Sound Table, the Corner Tavern, and Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium.

Each restaurant agreed to donate a certain percentage of their sales to Living Walls, providing music and a social atmosphere for those who wanted to explore the Edgewood area. Carnivore performed at the Corner Tavern later on in the evening.

Heather Garland, currently studying Art History at Georgia State, sets up meetings for the board of directors, logs employee hours, creates schedules for volunteers, helps set up gallery exhibits, among other things.

Garland says that her interaction with other Georgia State students helped inspired her to become involved in the local art community.

“A couple of days a week, I hang out with mummies and ancient artifacts, and then a couple of other days out of the week I am able to experience the concepts of a contemporary art form and its interactions with urban culture,” says Garland.

Garland says she recently took a contemporary Latin American art class that inspired her interest in public art and art that is created during major societal changes.

“I have a high respect for art that is intended to reach a wide audience, and I wanted to explore these ideas in my own city under current conditions, so I approached Monica about an internship,” says Garland.

“The murals created by Living Walls seek to create a dialogue between public space and the Atlanta community and by bringing in international artists to work with local artists, Living Walls ahs been successful with establishing global artistic unification in order to stress the importance of changing our urban landscape,” Garland says.

Monica Campana, one of the founders of Living Walls, says that its volunteers keep the organization alive. In the last year, she has been able to get a team together, many of them Georgia State students. Campana says that a lot of the murals are painted with the help of these volunteers.

“They are Living Walls,” says Campana.


See the article on The Signal‘s website.


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