Lead artists selected for Asheville’s Black Lives Matter mural

Press release from the Asheville Area Arts Council:

Artists Jenny Pickens, Joseph Pearson, and Marie T. Cochran will lead the design and implementation process for a Black Lives Matter mural in Asheville’s central business district. The street mural will be located in Pack Square, and extend from N. Pack Square to S. Pack Square.

Led by Councilwoman Sheneika Smith, along with other community groups and leaders this project hopes to promote racial healing and communal reconciliation, while galvanizing solidarity and celebrating a collective movement towards addressing systemic racial issues locally. “The artists who will put their hands to this street mural represent many untold stories,” said Smith. “It is my hope that all eyes that connect with this piece will experience and appreciate the bloody truths released from our collective memory onto a hard canvas. Yet, this is more than a painting or bold expression. It’s an altar that observes the most sacred social movement of my lifetime.”

This sentiment is also felt by Asheville native, artist Jenny Pickens. “What an honor to be selected as one of the lead artists for Black Lives Matter mural project,” said Pickens. “This is an exciting opportunity for me being a black woman who was born and raised here. I hope this is the beginning of a much needed change to bring people together in Asheville.” Over the years, Jenny has worked with all mediums from pencil, pen and ink, pastels, oils, fiber arts, pottery, even jewelry making, but her passion is acrylics. You can see several of Jenny’s murals around the city, including her newest installation at LEAF Global Arts.

Muralist and fine artist Joseph Pearson moved here from New Orleans about five years ago. His work has been featured throughout the area, including a mural of George Floyd that covered the front of Blue Ridge Public Radio during the recent protests. Pearson says he is “excited to be a part of this project because it allows [him] an opportunity to add [his] voice to the Black Lives Matter movement through [his] gift as an artist.” He goes on to say that he “believe[s] in the power of the arts to effect change and hopes to do so by adding [his] perspective to the struggle.”

Artist, educator and curator Marie T. Cochran has been working in the Appalachian region for over twelve years. She is the founder of The Affrilachian Artist Project, which celebrates the intersection of cultures in Appalachia. Cochran says “I am honored to be selected as one of the lead artists for the Black Lives Matter Asheville Street Mural. It is inspiring to be a part of this declaration of solidarity with the movement to address systematic racism in an urban Appalachian community.”

The lead artists will now focus on the mural design. Additional supporting artists will also be selected to help craft a unique design for each of the letters.

This is a community effort, and though the city has granted a permit for the temporary installation, this is not a city project. 100% of the funding for this project comes from individual donations and in-kind business support. Visit the project website to learn more about how you can support this community project: www.ashevillearts.com/blm.

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