To celebrate the third anniversary of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the center invited local artists to draw iconic figures. Artists from the GA Chalk Artists Guild chalk artists were stationed around the Center for Civil and Human Rights to create original chalk works of human rights leaders.
The event tooke place June 23rd, 2017 and featured James Wheeler, Meg Mitchell, Chelsey Austin, Katie Bush and Zach Herndon. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day. The weather could only have been more perfect if it were just a little cooler! Katie and James chalked in front of the Center for Civil and Human Rightsfountains. Katie drew a portrait of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. James did portraits of Thurgood Marshall. Creating crisp edges like that with chalk is among the hardest technical skills and he rocked it! Chelsey went vertical and did the Center for Civil and Human Rightslogo and a chalk rendition of the famous mural by Paula Scher on the inside of the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Zach drew a portrait of Freedom Rider Diane Nash. Meg did a portrait of Ibtihaj Muhammad. The surface where Meg and Zach chalked was challenging, as pigment had a hard time staying down and it was more difficult to get a painterly effect on the jagged surface. Katie used washable tempera paint for her base, which gave her surface a tooth that gripped onto chalk pretty well. James chalked directly on the surface, and the concrete there seemed to agree better with the chalk. We all completed our pieces in one day! The best part about chalking for the Center for Civil and Human Rights is that it’s a giant tourist area, with World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium being close by, so lots of people saw us in the process of creating our pieces and had many questions. Special thanks to Center for Civil and Human Rights staff for making this event special!
Meg Mitchell created a portrait of Ibtihaj Muhammad is an American sabre fencer, and a member of the United States fencing team. She is best known for being the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics. She earned the bronze medal as part of Team USA in the Team Sabre, becoming the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics.
James Wheeler created a portrait of Thurgood Marshall, “So when I researched Thurgood Marshall I was reminded how influential he was even before being named the first African american to the supreme court. His victory as a lawyer in the case Brown v. Board of Education, brought an end to segregation in schools. This made me want to show him as both the young lawyer and the honorable supreme court justice. As far as the style I chose, I’m a huge fan of Shepard Fairey’s work. He uses a method of multiple stencils to create depth and interest. I chose the color scheme as a nod to his skin color but instead of only using browns, I wanted to bring a lightness and energy to the piece so I had the colors step from brown to yellow. It was kind of impromptu but I love how it came out. and I’m really happy to have had the opportunity.”
Chelsey Austin was asked by the Center’s organizer to do an abbreviated version of the Paula Scher mural that is inside of the building along with Center for Civil and Human Rights logo. This was done alongside the outside wall of the museum, where Chelsey had first hand interaction with people walking and driving by. Several groups stopped to pose and sit on top of the wall, as well as inquire about the event itself that was taking place.
Katie’s portrait was of Kathrine Switzer, who was the first female to run the Boston Marathon in 1972. Her signature is K. Switzer and they assumed she was male, but when they realized she was running in the race, even though there was no formal rule against women running, officials tried to stop her and tear off her number (261). She went on to become an Emmy award-winning broadcaster and still tours talking about breaking the barrier. So cool! My piece was a portrait of Kathrine now, with her number, and two images on the left that were photos of the official trying to take her number and her boyfriend at the time trying to hold him back.
Zach Herndon was inspired to draw Diane Nash, a Freedom Rider who risked her life to draw attention to the injustice of segregation.