“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
–Dr. Margaret Wheatley, Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future
Research on place attachment—the emotional bond between person and place—suggests that aesthetics and openness are two of the most crucial ingredients for loving where you live. Simply being in a beautiful, public place where you can interact with others boosts happiness, fosters trust, and nurtures neighborliness. We’re excited to share updates from one of our past Get Artistic partners, Broderick Flanigan, whose public art initiative provides creative ways for the community to be directly involved in the process of making public spaces both more beautiful and more open.
Broderick Flanigan is a local painter, muralist, and community activist. In 2019, the Get Artistic program awarded Broderick a grant to continue his mural project, Helping Art Reach Public Spaces (HARPS), an initiative which provides opportunities for local youth to co-create a community mural alongside the artist. Two murals have already been painted this summer utilizing the Get Artistic funds, with two more planned to be completed later this year.
The most recently completed mural, pictured below, is located at Triangle Plaza (Vine St. and Gressom) on the side of the building housing Flanigan’s Portrait Studio, where the artist works on his art, hosts art classes for children, and holds community-building get-togethers. This mural showcases four East Athens community leaders who worked to secure resources, establish community centers, and build infrastructure for their neighborhoods: Jessie Barnett, Evelyn C. Neely, Miriam Moore, and Virginia Walker. Learn more about the mural and the artist’s recent experience working through the COVID-19 pandemic in this video interview (Athens Banner-Herald, May 2020).
While the Vine & Gressom mural was painted in collaboration with local teens, the next HARPS murals—on panels for bus shelters along Nellie B Avenue—will be painted with elementary and middle school-aged children. All youth involved in the projects receive stipends as compensation for their work, reinforcing Broderick’s advocacy for both stabilizing families by providing equitable economic opportunities and for fair valuation of artists’ work. Kids walk away from the experience with improved technical painting skills, a better understanding of art as entrepreneurship, and the pride of contributing to the beautification of a shared space.
In addition to his creative work, Broderick is a Neighborhood Coordinator for Family Connections-Communities in Schools, a board member for the Economic Justice Coalition, and a volunteer with East Athens Development Corporation (a 2020 Get Comfortable partner).
We’re so grateful for dedicated and innovative leaders like Broderick who make our city a better place to live, work, and explore.
Get Artistic 2020 grant applications are live through July 17, 2020. Click here to learn more.
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