Update: It looks like the latest news, as of August 27th, is that this mural is going to be removed.
My personal favorite mural at this year’s Living Walls Conference (which took place in Atlanta last week and we’ll be covering more from there soon) has to by Hyuro‘s mural in the Lakewood Heights neighborhood. It’s also proved to be the most controversial mural of the conference to date, with some people worried that the mural is too lewd for having in a public space, particular a space nearby a church, a mosque, a lot of street prostitution and a federal prison. Personally, I think the mural brightens up an otherwise drab wall and parking area.
Hyuro painted a frame-by-frame animation (of 30-some frames) which can be seen by walking down the length of the mural. The animation is of a women growing fur and then shedding that fur, which turns into a wolf and walks away from her. It’s based on an animation she made last year using drawings:
The way I read the mural, it was empowering to women, urging them to be strong and go out into the world with the strength of a wolf. The way I’ve heard Hyuro explain it, the mural is about shedding one’s animal instincts for higher planes of thought. Either way, a great message.
But not every mural is for everyone, and any mural that everyone likes is almost sure to be a boring one. In a thread on the website i-Neighbors, some Lakewood Heights residents have complained that they find the mural offensive, with some even saying that they will now change their usual routes to work or school in order to avoid them or their children seeing it. I had a quick read through of the i-Neighbors posts, and while there are certainly some people who want the mural removed, most of the posts expressing in opinion one way or the other are from people who are okay with the mural or who love it. According to Alex Parrish, Living Walls’ Director of Communications, the response to the mural over social media has been overwhelmingly positive.
Unfortunately, the local news seems to be over-hyping a friendly discussion amongst neighbors into a full-blown controversy and now Hyuro’s mural truly is at risk of being removed. Eeven though Hyuro had the permission from the owner of the wall to paint there, the city of Atlanta does still have some control over what goes there. The initial plans that were submitted to the city included
a sketch by Hyuro, but upon showing up at the wall, the artist changed her mind about sample work by Hyuro, and upon showing up at the wall, she decided what to paint given the shape of the wall and how her animation could fit there perfectly, as well as provide an uplifting message for the neighborhood. As a result, the mural was not really approved by the city. On Wednesday, Living Walls resubmitted plans to the city based on the finished mural. The final decision is still pending.
If you want to voice your opinion on the mural, you can email Camille Russell Love, director of Atlanta’s Director Office Of Cultural Affairs. Her email is CRLove -at- atlantaga.gov. Living Walls (and I) would really appreciate your support of this beautiful artwork. As I understand it, many of the people upset with the mural have contacted Love and other city officials, and so it’s extremely important that those who are in favor of keeping the mural make their voices heard as well.
Photos by Dustin Chambers and RJ Rushmore