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Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights names artist, location for art project

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Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights names artist, location for art project

Student organizers Bethani Thomas (l) and Genesis Reddicks look on as Fonta High, Co-Chair, Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights and Co-Chair, Decolonize Decatur Committee speaks during a March 20 press conference calling for DeKalb County to remove the ‘Indian War’ cannon from the Decatur Square. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, a group advocating for equity in Decatur and City Schools of Decatur, has announced its artist and location for its “Art for the People” campaign.

According to a press release, “The Art for the People” project – a partnership between the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights, Decatur Makers, and the Decatur Arts Alliance – has selected Ellex Swavoni, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Atlanta, to produce an interactive piece of public art which will be placed on Trinity Place near Ebster Park in Decatur.

The press release said “Art for the People” will celebrate “the genius of Black artistry and the resilience of Black people. The project is intended to facilitate community conversations and use art to address inequities experienced by Black people and other people of color, the press release says. The project is also intended to discuss what anti-racism work means for allies.

The piece is titled “What Sonia Said.”

Swavoni said her piece will, “cross reference the significance of fire for multiple cultures including the Indigenous, Africans, and Atlantans. Fire is a powerful force that can destroy but it also cleanses, represents passion, enlightenment, and transformation.”

The press release says the work will illustrate her philosophy of heroism which believes that “the real hero is the seemingly invisible network of courage and generosity carried out by ordinary human beings in service of other human beings; Like a passing of fire from hand to hand.”

Beacon Hill has raised more than $30,000 for the project thanks to support from the Decatur community and the metro Atlanta area.

The city of Decatur provided $5,000 and an anonymous donor provided a $10,000 matching grant. There were also a number of small donations made through a GoFundMe account.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ellex and her cool, unique style as the first Artist-in-Residence at Decatur Makers,” said Irm Diorio, Executive Director of Decatur Makers. “Her creativity and love of toy design, sculpting, and ancient spirituality will enrich our community over the next year through hands-on workshops and making art focused on positive self-expression.”

The press release notes that City Schools of Decatur students were at the center of a movement to remove the Confederate monument in the Square. Seniors at Decatur High and members of Beacon Hill’s Decolonize Decatur Committee have “continued their work to challenge the narrative of the agents of oppression and genocide and transform that narrative to center public art by artists of color that will stimulate the conversation and organizing necessary to free us all,” the press release says.

The unveiling of “What Sonia Said” will happen in August 2021. For more information, visit the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights website and Facebook page.

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