project overview

A Note For Hope

The design of the mural does not offer easy answers.
— Rhodes College's Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts

Jeff Zimmermann, assisted by Rhodes College students and CODA staff, painted an original, five-story high mural on the east side of the vacant building located at 195 Madison Avenue. Owned by Rhodes trustee Wilton “Chick” Hill, the mural is visible from the stands of the Memphis Redbirds stadium. The project was developed by the UrbanArt Commission working with Rhodes students, offering students an apprenticeship in public art planning. In essence, this project is the result of an extended class project.

In 2008, CODA students conducted a national search to commission an artist to depict a theme relevant to Memphis’ history and culture. In addition, a meeting was held between Rhodes′ students and a community panel to discuss what themes they felt should be represented and what conversations they felt should be sparked from the mural. After Zimmermann’s selection, these ideas were sent to him, not as guidelines, but as a starting point.

In a letter to the city of Memphis about the project, Rhodes College's Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts said the mural is not intended to be about the city's past, "but to begin a conversation about moving Memphis forward."

"The design of the mural does not offer easy answers. The meanings aren't clear, and everyone will have different interpretations. ... So as the mural progresses and once it is complete we are asking that you go down and look at it for a long time. Sit out there and eat a sandwich. Take it all in and think about Memphis––all the good and bad and hopes and dreams you have for this great city. Maybe things in the mural will speak to you, maybe you'll disagree with everything you see. But did it move you more than the blank wall that was there before?"

 
 

About the Artist

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Jeff Zimmerman

A native of Chicago, Jeff Zimmermann has achieved national and international recognition for his large scale murals featuring painted images of contemporary pop culture and sensitively rendered portraits. Zimmermann’s pop-culture references range from innocuous consumer products such as beer cans, hard candy rings, and high healed shoes, to more symbolically charged images like pistols and portraits of political figures. The images are discrete and floating, knitted together by geometric areas of flat color. The overall aesthetic is smooth and sensual: shiny metal and glossy surfaces, rendered in saturated colors. Zimmermann’s paintings have the sex appeal of commercial art, and any irony surrounding that connection is light and playful. The artist’s background as a graphic designer explains his shrewd use of flashy and graphic forms which also permeate the mass media (Zimmermann’s self-proclaimed competition), operating on the theory that we all deeply love flashy stuff.

To learn more of his work, visit: Jeff Zimmerman.