The Marietta Arts Council Helps Artists Tell Visual Stories with Vibrant Murals

En Pointe a mural painted by Marietta artist Lindsey O'Shields on the wall of Georgia Dance Conservatory, home of GA Metro Dance Theatre on the historic Marietta Square.

There was a time when I thought murals were just street art that made a city look more interesting. Houston's neighborhoods are dotted with them; Philadelphia's buildings are virtually an outdoor art gallery. In actuality, cities like New York, Nashville, Austin, Atlanta and my hometown of Marietta have become more vibrant because of beautiful murals displayed on their buildings. Now I know, street art doesn't only transform a city, increase tourism and display colorful pictures. It tells a story about the history, culture and people of a city. Entire neighborhoods across this country are alive with the visual stories of its people told through the creative storytelling of visual artists.

The Marietta Arts Council, in a quest to enrich the city's artistic and cultural landscape through public art, became the catalyst for a tradition of murals on the historic Marietta Square (the Square). The murals are exhibited as part of the annual Mountain to River Trailfest (Trailfest). Six new murals were added this year, in addition to the seven remaining from last year. It's exciting to live in a city where you get to see the world from the perspectives of so many creative and talented artists.

Angie Jerez painting Nature is Watching You, trailside at Two Birds Taphouse on the historic Marietta Square.

Colombian artist Angie Jerez uses everyday objects and random abstract shapes with inspiration from South America for her murals. Jerez moved to Atlanta seven years ago and fell in love with Atlanta's flourishing art scene. Her mural, Nature Is Watching You, tells the narrative of our neglect for the environment. We are ruining our lands and oceans with pollutants and plastic waste. Jerez's mural visually reminds us that at some point people will need to be accountable for the harm we are doing to our world. What I love about art is it can speak to social issues and ignite our passion for the world we live in.

Leigh Ann Culver working on her mural Interwoven on Marietta 31 Mill Street.

In her mural, Interwoven, Atlanta, artist Leigh Ann Culver tells the story of the Civil War from women's point of view. Culver's story is inspired by the first African American nurse in the U.S. Army, Susie Baker King Taylor. Taylor was raised as an enslaved woman in the state of Georgia who secretly learned to read and write as a child. During the Civil War she escaped to freedom and organized a school for children and adults on St. Simon’s Island and then in Savannah. Of her illustration of Taylor, Culver says, “I tried to get a likeness in the portrait but I also wanted to keep the subject anonymous so that she can represent free women of color in general.”