Integrating their talents, character, and experience to solve the weakness in social order, artists in Atlanta have embraced the community in their inspiring creative journey. With its artists greasing its wheels, Atlanta has come a long way in creating a seamless and vibrant hub for street art, exhibitions, and art caucuses. It is home to numerous art exhibitions and events that foster community involvement and dialogue between artists and audiences. Local artists and out-of-town artists invited were heavily focused on capturing and challenging issues that are often not talked about and that are important to Atlanta specifically.
Here are brief introductions to the different subject matters of art exhibitions, installations, performances and events held in Atlanta:
Flux Project (current and ongoing)
The Flux Project was founded in 2009 and till today, it remains as a medium in engaging Atlanta’s public spaces with thought-proving art. It is a non-profit arts organization that aims to shape and promote Atlanta’ cultural identity. (@fluxproject.com)
Art in Freedom Park
Freedom Park’s visibility made it an ideal location for public display of art work in Atlanta. In 2005, Evan Levy opened the fountainhead for sculptures and paved the way for bolder, more conceptual and more risk-taking art installations and projects for local artists to explore. Ever since then, multiple installations and art events have attracted multiple citizens around Atlanta and further connected art with the larger cultural discourse. (@freedompark.org)
Murals in Georgia Department of Agriculture
As you step in the lobby of Georgia Department of Agriculture, you will come across a painting that has been hanging in the lobby for half a century. These murals are part of a collection of eight works painted by George Beattle in 1956. It depicts “an idealized version of Georgia farming, from the corn grown by prehistoric American Indians to a 20th-century veterinary lab. In the Deep South, the history of forced use of slave labor”. In response to the controversy around the paintings, Beattle responded, “as a human being, I am vehemently opposed to slavery, as anyone should be but it was a significant epoch in our history; it would have been inaccurate not to include this period”. (Associated Press)
Human trafficking and Sexual Assault
“It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity. It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric. It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets. It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime. I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name -modern slavery.”
– President Barack Obama in remarks to the Clinton Global Initiative in 2012
Human trafficking is brutal and widespread in Atlanta. In fact, Atlanta is one of the largest hubs for human trafficking in the country. Mary Bowely, who runs Wellspring Living, a non-profit organization in Atlanta that helps young survivors of human trafficking explains how the numbers are bigger than what many people consider; there are about 200-300 girls that are trafficked each month in this very city and around 100 girls are exploited in metro Atlanta every night. To fight modern slavery, local Atlanta artists and artists from out-of-town gathered together in Mammal Gallery this September to engage in dialogue with the community and raise awareness of human trafficking in Atlanta. (@WCAGA.org)
In 2013, an Emory graduate, Charlie Watts Watts held an exhibition about sex trafficking at Emory University’s Visual Art Building Gallery. Titled, “The ThrowAways” Watts involved a photographic genre of pictorialism with glowing, digitally produced color images in her creative efforts to create art that would “neither drive away potential viewers nor blunt the impact of the unpleasant facts embodied in the subject” (@artsatl). Her exhibition, in a review by Jerry Cullum credited the exhibition to have “exactly the right mixture of cold realism and metaphoric evocation” that placed the viewer in a climate appropriate to understand the oppressive, tense and brutal aspects of human trafficking (Jerry Cullum).
Author: Youjean (Ivey) Hwang