A consistent challenge that muralists, aerosol writers and “street artists” face if we are concerned with the impact and integrity of the work. On one hand, the bureaucracy, low-budgets of the projects, and city mandated approval processes significantly hinder our ability to significantly build in the communities that we are painting. Unless a community design process is funded to support the artist, we often have to take on these responsibilities on our own. It is extremely difficult for “local” muralists to sustain themselves off of their artwork without traveling to other cities for projects. How many paid mural jobs does any city offer in a year? For how many years? How does that compare to the number of qualified artists seeking them. On top of that, we have no health plans, no insurance, regular bills, families, etc. So on that level of survival as artists, when opportunities arise out of state, or internationally, we take them. Increase exposure, a new market. But it is difficult to make the necessary local connections, to understand the politics and community dynamics in the short amount of time that we are invited to work.
On many levels, the process to create new artwork needs to be streamlined rather than having new hurdles introduced. Murals like Roti’s need to have protections, so that vigilante groups do not destroy them haphazardly. On the other hand, the community needs to be empowered to take over responsibility for the walls in their neighborhood, if they so choose. Had a system of community based murals been supported prior to this project, then Pittsburgh residents could have adopted it a long time ago!
Living Walls attempted to do something good for the muralists, public art, “street art”, and aerosol community. They brought together numerous artists from around the world and provided them space to do their work, funding for their travel, and compensated them for the art. They jumped through the bureaucratic hurdles that would have made these projects impossible for the individual artists coming from elsewhere. The area that Living Walls failed was community engagement. How did the local residents know what was being painted? How were they introduced to the artists? How was the community celebrated in all of this? And why should the local residents be expected to value something different, something that the value hasn’t been explained to them? So residents thought the mural was Satanic! It sounds incredible to many art aficionados, but if that was the perception, how can be so hard to understand the public taking matters into their own hands?
LIVING WALLS: THE CITY SPEAKS VIA VIMEO
Some residents in southwest Atlanta are outraged over a mural they believe has ‘satanic’ images.
A mural intended to spruce up a southwest Atlanta community has residents at odds over what some say are “satanic” depictions.
Outraged locals covered up the artwork, which was commissioned by the nonprofit Living Walls Conference, with gray paint Friday morning. Others showed up soon after to wash the paint off.
“The fishes were satanic; the scales were satanic. You know, they just don’t feel that it represents their community,” resident Angel Poventud told WSVB-TV of the wall, which is located in the neighborhood of Pittsburgh.
Adrainne Gray said she was upset that her neighbors covered up the mural, which took French artist Pierre Roti more than a month to paint.
Volunteers scrub the paint off the defaced mural in southwest Atlanta Friday.
“To see it being defaced that way — it was disappointing and saddening,” Gray said, standing with her young son Everrett, who added, “I didn’t think it was nice.”
The uproar has led to many questioning whether the nonprofit was allowed to commission the work in the first place.
Three City of Atlanta departments signed off on the artwork, the organization’s director told WSVB-TV.
But the wall belongs to the Georgia Department of Transportation, and it never issued a permit.
Adrianne Grey’s son, Everrett, expresses his distaste over the covering up of Roti’s mural.
This is not the first time a Living Walls-commissioned mural has provoked controversy in an Atlanta community.
A mural painted by Spanish artist Hyuro was eventually painted over after residents took issue with its depictions of naked women.