The District Mural Training Program provides mural training and professional development from MuralArts Philadelphia and culminates in each artist creating their own $30,000 mural project in each of the seven Council districts. The seven artists were selected back in March 2018, but we wanted to gain more insight into each artist’s background and intent to apply for the District Mural Program. So we gathered around our table at UAC and asked them a few introductory questions, so we could get a “behind the scenes” into the Seven artists for the DMP.
Danielle Sierra Avenal, California: Danielle grew up a California girl, born and raised in Avenal, but eventually moved to Fresno to receive her BSA in Studio Painting. She became heavily involved with the creative culture there, but shied away from murals. When asked about applying for the DMP she said “public art always seemed very selfish…always me me me, so I shied away from murals, but this was about making art that reflected the community”, which was a huge factor that influenced her applying.
In asking what inspired her to become an artist she reminded us of how powerful influence is in crafting our lives, for her father largely influenced her desire to be an artist. She recanted a delightful story about him carving a monkey from a peach pit, sparking a lifelong love and devotion to her craft.
Sierra’s art is divinely inspired and is her offering unto God, His creations, and ultimately His love towards us. It’s a testimony to the gifts and talents we are all bestowed.
Carl Scott, Forest City, Arkansas, Carl always knew he would be a painter, from the moment his art teachers encouraged him in Middle School to become an artist, he pressed forward and is now a well established painter in Memphis.
Scott mentioned that he always grew up around art. His friends, his mom, his mentors were all artists who inspired his own artistic trajectory, and so it made sense that this would be his life.
We talked for a while about some of his favorite paintings and Carl actually stopped by our office well after the group interview to continue our initial conversation. Lately, he’s been inspired by a series of paintings of children’s faces from various ethnicities. The process of observing different people, researching all of the hues and tones that make up humanity has been greatly rewarding for him lately and has allowed him to combine his love of painting and people in one.
For Lindsey Bailey, art wasn’t her initial career path, it was actually the Science and Tech sector that caught her eye. She reminisced on her time at Mississippi State, in which she laughed and said “I thought I was going to be in medical engineering and then I was like oooo look at all this math” . On a whim she entered a cell-phone design contest in college, an won. From that leap of faith, Bailey discovered her love for graphic design and portraiture, which began her whirlwind journey to becoming an artist.
Bailey said the DMP is her opportunity to connect with more artists and do something she’s never done before. It’s exciting to see her portrait work, which has garnered awards from ESPN and a recent residency in Brewster, NY translate into a large-scale mural in Memphis.
Lawrence Matthews, Memphis TN , is a jack (artist) of all trades. He’s a visual artist, musician, film-maker, and storyteller of sorts. His work is largely influenced and is a reflection of his journey as an African descendant navigating life in America.
He almost didn’t apply for the District Mural Art Training Program because he “was tired of taking RFQ L’s” and not being accepted into a program. After being accepted he mentioned how excited he was make public art reflective of the community he’ll be working alongside.
This is preceded with just releasing his second album Contour, and a documentary about the Binghampton community called The Other Side of Broad, exploring the transformation of two neighborhood schools from public schools to STEM and charter schools.
Darlene Newman, Memphis, TN. Darlene is an illustrator and painter, but her work is often an offering and testimony to her faith journey.
Her joy in painting and interacting with others stems from a divinely purposeful space, in which she believes her work is a positive light in a world where its easy to find work that doesn’t seek good in difficult situations or complexity.
For Newman, her paintings are often a continual narrative of paintings she’s made prior, to tell biblical stories, personal testimony, and delve into the binary of good and evil in the world. Ultimately her work is an ongoing story of her perception of God’s love for us though we are fallible humans.
Joseph Boyd, Memphis, TN, began his journey of art -making as kid inspired by dinosaurs, the television show NOVA, and a National Geographic subscription thanks to his dad.
A transitional moment for Boyd was when he was introduced to watercolors in Middle School, but because it didn’t have the texture he desired, he thickened the paint; realizing he could make art on his own terms.
From that moment he continued to explore abstraction, using bold colors, and creating impactful meaning in all of his creations. For Boyd, murals are his favorite way of expressing himself, so it only felt natural to apply for a mural program that would allow him to express himself for a city he loves so dear.
Larry Walker, Memphis, TN, saw himself as “one of those kids that never..could be an artist”, but after winning 3rd place and a candy bar in a bookmark contest in grade school, Walker discovered his love for art, portraiture especially. After countless hours of perfecting his craft, he attended Memphis College of Art due to his art teacher submitting his college application, unbeknownst to him.
When Walker applied for the DMP he intended to apply a month before, but he swears he submitted it two minutes before it was due. He realized that he was making a bunch of “pretty art”, but was desiring an opportunity to do art with a message.
As a Memphis native, he’s been able to create portraits for Shelby County’s first African American mayor, A.C. Wharton, create the poster for the Memphis in May festival, and countless others making a name for himself in Memphis.