Avondale YFD Center Murals
by the Artist SEVEN
The City of Chattanooga opened a new, state of the art 23,000 square foot Youth and Family Development (YFD) Center in the Avondale neighborhood in late 2019. The Center houses a full service library containing a computer lab and MakerSpace, as well as a dance room, gym, classrooms, and community room. The Center is open to the public and is available for a variety of community functions.
During the design process of the Avondale YFD Center, residents expressed considerable interest in a large-scale mural resulting in a prominent space on the exterior of the building facing Wilcox Blvd. The 12'4" x 42'6" mural's design was informed by the community’s input through community engagement opportunities facilitated by commissioned artist SEVEN and PAC Creative Strategist, Erika Roberts. A smaller 8' x 26' mural was also informed by the engagement sessions, and that mural is located in the Center's interior across from the reception area.
The exterior mural project is funded by the City of Chattanooga’s Art in Capital program. The Art in Capital program ensures that public art is integral to how the City builds itself and provides more opportunities for the identities and cultures within our communities to be reflected in shared public spaces.
"The LOVE mural concept design was created based on input from the community obtained by the creative strategist and community outreach coordinator Erika Roberts. Through a series of community based activities and zoom gatherings I received information from the community on what they would like to see reflected in the mural artwork. Of these activities, the coloring pages of artwork submitted by the community’s middle school students proved to be most insightful. The artwork depicted descriptions or images of colorful and vibrant themes of sports activities, family and togetherness.
In addition to the community feedback another key piece of the equation was a poem that I asked Erika Roberts to write to help inspire my imagination. The poem spoke of love energy that would radiate as a result of the installation of this mural. It was written almost as if it was from a perception of foresight. The “love” element was what stood out and influenced the design the most. I took all those community input ingredients and mixed them up to formulate the mural you now see. I tried to create a mural that would be aesthetically pleasing while complimenting the new modern styled architecture of the building with a theme that was colorful and reflected the love of family, sports and varying dynamics of the family unit."
-The Artist SEVEN
About the Artist
The Artist SEVEN
The Artist SEVEN (AKA Eric Finley) is a street art muralist, illustrator and graphic artist native to Chattanooga, TN. He has a B.F.A. from American Intercontinental University in Atlanta, GA. SEVEN is the founder and creative director for the Burnin’ Bridges Street Art Project, and also hosts an annual “mural jam” in Chattanooga’s Southside community. SEVEN strives to make an artistic impact in Chattanooga, while helping to develop a cultural awareness and an appreciation for street art as a relevant and empowering art form in today’s society.
About the Creative Strategist
ERIKA ROBERTS - Velvet Poetry Productions
Erika Roberts is a mother, grandmother, a poet and creator. Her artistry began 36 years ago in elementary school when she was introduced to poetry in the 5th grade. She noticed she had a great relationship with creativity as a means to communicate. Since then, she has become a humble part of the performing community in Chattanooga by creating shows to highlight the creatives therein. Erika is a successful workshop creator and facilitator under her production company, Velvet Poetry Productions, where she has performed at Barking Legs Theater, Bessie Smith Hall, The Hunter Museum, The Camp House, Lincoln Park, and Mercy Junction. She currently is contracted by Glass House Collective, in addition to performing in a monthly late night poetry show at The Palace Theater. Erika is also the recipient of the 2020 Chattanooga Business Elite's Best in the Arts Black Excellence award.
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