- Associated Press - Sunday, June 21, 2020

MACON, Ga. (AP) - Before Craig Coleman taught at Mercer University, he had a frustrated student ask him during a class why Coleman always showed examples of political art.

“I said, ‘Since when has art not been political?’ And then I changed my lecture really quickly, and I started showing everyone paintings from the Renaissance and before that were made as statements,” Coleman said. “I think it’s part of art. I think it’s something that artists notice. They notice what happens in the world, and if there’s an injustice,… they show it. They say, ‘Here’s this terrible thing, and we want to get the word out. We want people to know that it happened in history.’”

Coleman, a professor of art at Mercer, recently projected a mural of Little Richard on the confederate statue at the corner of Cotton Avenue and Second Street after Little Richard’s death.

“I was just thinking that it was terrible that with COVID and all the social distancing in place that there probably wouldn’t be some kind of public gathering or acknowledgment in some way of his death or his life, so I just thought I’m gonna go do this right now,” he said.

Although Coleman said he didn’t consider his actions to be art activism, he definitely thought it was a statement and a response to Little Richard’s death.



In the past two months, the Macon community has participate in or is planning several acts of art activism.

- U Create Macon announced a mural honoring Black history on the side of their building in Pleasant Hill. The mural was in response to Mercer painting over the Black history mural in Mercer Village. Dsto Moore, a Macon photographer from Pleasant Hill, created the portraits of Pleasant Hill residents to display on the wall to honor the neighborhood.

- A petition was started to address the erasure of the Mercer Village mural and to pay artists to create a new mural dedicated to racial justice to be installed in downtown Macon.

- A GoFundMe page was started to support a Black Lives Matter mural to be painted on one of Macon’s roads.

- Coleman is working with Karen Bray, a Wesleyan College professor, to find the names of slaves who were in Macon and projecting those names on the confederate statue at the corner of Cotton Avenue and Second Street.

Additionally, Society Garden had a mural painted on their wall to honor Little Richard.

Art is not only something for people to enjoy, but Coleman said it can be used as a strategy to help people have difficult conversations.

“For us to move on and have discussions, we need to make sure that people don’t close down or decide they don’t want to talk about something because they’re slapped in the face with it,” he said. “We need to use all the strategies we can to get people engaged in discussion, and I think art is a great one for that.”

BECOMING AN ART ACTIVIST

Although Dsto Moore doesn’t think of himself as an art activist, he said a lot of people consider him to be one.

Moore created the photo mural for U Create Macon to honor the Pleasant Hill community, and he has done several other projects around Macon, such as the Macon Music Project, Macon Hidden Gems and Macon a Living.

“Everybody has a story to tell. I don’t care if you’re black or white, whatever, you’ve got a story to tell,” Moore said. “Your story matters.”

Moore tries to give people a sense of pride, raise awareness about people’s circumstances, promote representation in the media and make people think critically about the world around them, he said.

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