For including the public in public art
Illustration by Jamie Jones

In Atlanta’s civic circles, “public art” is a popular buzzword. But too often the projects are created by outsiders with little connection to the communities where the art is installed. Arts nonprofit WonderRoot has a different vision. When the Annie E. Casey Foundation approached the organization about creating a mural off University Avenue and McDaniel Street, just southwest of downtown, WonderRoot formed a consulting committee of neighborhood leaders and residents. “We believe that [those] who live with the artwork 365 days a year should have a voice in forming the content,” says WonderRoot executive director Chris Appleton.

The completed project celebrates the past and future of Pittsburgh, Adair Park, Capitol View, and Capitol View Manor with three sculpted cement panels and four sculptures made by local artist Fred Ajanogha, with help from fellow artists Eddie McBride in Pittsburgh and Katlin Rothacher in Capitol View. WonderRoot is using the community-first approach for future installations, such as a wayfinding sign project celebrating the residents of Reynoldstown, and En Route, a project to install art at various MARTA stops. WonderRoot is also renovating the old Tech High School on Memorial Drive as its future home base.

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This article originally appeared in our September 2015 issue.