UrbanArt Commission picks artists for future murals

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Seven artists have been chosen out of 40 people to paint murals around the City of Memphis.

Each artist received $30,000 to complete the murals.

It will be months before we see the first stroke of paint for the new murals. Right now, the focus for the artists is talking to the residents who live in the area to find out what they want to see.

For seven local artists, it's the chance to leave their mark on Memphis.

"I think that being able to afford the work and create that will last beyond myself possibly and be a part of what the city is and is growing to be is definitely a huge opportunity," said artist Lawerence Matthews.

Matthews is one of seven artists who will create a masterpiece, one for each of the city council's seven districts.

Artists were selected from an open call sponsored by the UrbanArt Commission and City of Memphis, and each participated in the District Mural Training Program.

Murals from the first of artists can already be found at community centers in Uptown.

"It's important for us to always keep a sharp focus that these places have a lot of beauty already," said Emily Rooker, Project Manager at UrbanArt Commission. "The people there are beautiful. Stories are really rich in their lives and stories are really rich and beautiful."

Planning for the new murals is still in the beginning stages. Exact locations will be narrowed down, and input will be collected from the community.

"I have ideas about aesthetics and maybe approaches that I want to have in terms of materials and different things, but I really want the community to guide what the mural ends up looking like," Matthews said.

Matthews will intertwine Memphis' rich history and his own life experiences to create an image he hopes neighbors want to see.

"Think there are a lot of narratives that don't get put to the forefront in terms of meant the ends are certain people for certain communities, people from certain communities and then in Memphis and also within public art," Matthews said.

Once the locations are set, the artists will meet with residents over the summer and begin on their works of art possibly by the end of the year.

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