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Living Walls spreads positivity through art during COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 Decatur Metro ATL

Living Walls spreads positivity through art during COVID-19 pandemic

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Atlanta artist Elizabeth Lang worked with Living Walls during the Signs of Solidarity project in April. Her sign was displayed at Wild Oats and Billy Goats in Decatur. It served as a reminder that everyone's life is important and everyone is essential to the community. Photo submitted by Elizabeth Lang.


By Zoe Seiler, contributor

Atlanta, GA — During the coronavirus pandemic, many people have found themselves quarantined at home with little social interaction and missing their friends and loved ones. A local art nonprofit, Living Walls, partnered with artists in Atlanta to spread positivity and provide a sense of solidarity to the community.

Living Walls worked with The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation to create a mural that uplifts the community and spreads positivity, kindness and encouragement.

The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation supports women and helps them through education, entrepreneurship and the arts, according to the foundation’s website.

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Living Walls enlisted the talents of local artist Sarah Neuburger to create the mural, which was finished on June 14. It features a quote from Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, that says “humans can be quarantined but the human spirit cannot be contained.”

Local artist Sarah Neuburger collaborated with Living Walls to create a mural at the intersection of Ponce de Leon and North Highland Avenue in partnership with the Sara Blakely Foundation. The mural showcases a quote from Blakely and features various essential workers. Photo by Sarah Neuburger.

“The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation’s mural highlights perseverance, the human spirit, and our community who spreads positivity, kindness, and encouragement all around us,” a Living Walls press release says.

It also features a woman with a red backpack which represents Blakely and the foundation. When Blakely started Spanx she wore a red backpack “believing it would help change the course of her start-up,” the Spanx Foundation website says. The red backpack is a symbol of women’s potential and inner strength.

Located at the intersection of Ponce de Leon and North Highland Avenue, the mural showcases a variety of essential workers from farmers to grocery store employees to healthcare and sanitation workers.

“To those sewing masks to the neighbors clapping at shift changes. And to those delivering goods and teaching children while working full-time, we see you,” Neuburger wrote on Instagram.

Neuburger wanted to show the ways people connected with each other through this time and also honor essential workers.

“For me, it was about honoring them and the work that they have done,” she said. “I also hoped that as a mural it will be visible a year or two from now and as this moment passes, that we continue to honor those people.”

She added that frontline workers have often been called heroes but she thinks that not all of them signed up for that or necessarily had a choice to show up for people in this way during a pandemic.

“I hope that the nature of the mural continues to remind us to support these individuals in the months and years ahead as well and be aware of their safety needs,” Neuburger said. “We wanted to put a positive message out [about] the ways that we’ve come together and the way we’re connected to each other.”

Living Walls worked to spread positivity earlier this spring when the organization collaborated with 30 local artists for its Signs of Solidarity project. The project aimed to spread messages of hope and show people they are not alone during the pandemic.

“We just wanted to let the community know that we’re all in this together after what happened with COVID-19,” said Ivan Solis, communications director for Living Walls.

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Many businesses and nonprofits have been affected, people are without jobs and artists have had projects canceled, Solis said.

“We wanted to do something to uplift the community,” Solis said. “We created the slogan saying ‘quarantine together’ so that people who were feeling alone during these times of uncertainty [know] that we’re all in this together.”

Living Walls paid all 30 artists to create signs that they hung outside of their homes, businesses or were displayed as a digital billboard to show solidarity to those greatly affected by the pandemic.

The organization was able to pay the participating artists and Solis said Living Walls created the project to support local artists and help them through the pandemic.

Artist Elizabeth Lang created a sign in April that says “you are essential” which was displayed at Wild Oats and Billy Goats in Decatur.  The sign was displayed at the store, where Lang sells her artwork, for a few weeks in April when the city was shut down.

“At that moment, I felt like the one message I wanted to send out was that your life is important. That’s why we’re doing [quarantine],” Lang said. “You are an essential part of this community.”

She created the sign to show a sense of community in a time where that was lacking and people may have felt emotionally and physically drained.

“I don’t even know that we all realized before this year how much community meant. Being away from each other has been a different kind of sadness or lack of energy almost,” Lang said.

She also empathized with those who were isolated at the time when the state was shut down.

“I wanted something that said you’re doing this because your life is important, somebody cares about you and you’re not only staying home for yourself but also for others. It’s kind of the community feeling that we’re all important,” Lang said.

The sign was also a message to each individual reading the sign.

“But you in particular, whoever you are reading the sign, I wanted that person to know how valuable their life is and why we have to suffer through a period of isolation,” Lang said

She wanted to display a message that people could connect to and be reminded that, “I’m important. I may not be as validated with that in mind right now because I’m not seeing my friends every day and feeling that value,” Lang said.

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