ATLANTA — When times are uncertain, there's a tendency to look for a sign, an assurance that all will be OK. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact, Monica Campana created not only a sign, but a movement.
"As soon as we heard the news, and we were told to stay at home," Campana said, "We could feel and see the amount of people going through a lot of anxiety and fear, losing work, especially for artists."
"It really started with me making a sign and putting it out of my window," Campana, co-founder and executive director of Living Walls, said. "It was kind of a reaction. We have to do something. We can do something. We have to help artists right now ... let's do it."
Campana's sign sparked the return of the 2017 'Signs of Solidarity' campaign. The nonprofit began reaching out to artists needing support, empowering Josephine Figueroa and others with a canvas, $100 and an assignment of hope.
"Watching my money disappear ... after every cancellation, after every cancellation, it just became more and more serious," Figueroa said. "I didn't even think at that point, oh, Living Walls would have any money to give us," she said. "I was just like 'yes, I also want to paint.'"
Creating a sign was like a daily meditation, Figueroa said, her gratitude for the project also reflecting her gratitude for extra funding.
"I can't explain how grateful I am," she said. "$100 is like a dollar to some people, but for me, that's a lot of money."
The #SignsOfSolidarity mission, the 2.0 version according to Campana, started with little more than a dozen artists, but Living Walls Instagram feed is now full of such work. The signs featuring messages of solidarity, encouragement and community displayed across the city.
"It's our priority to act as economic engines for artists here," Campana said, "Because artists are not well paid and it's really hard sometimes to see the value of art. We started to see most of the artists we work with that usually work in the service industry now really having nothing,"
"This was our way to say COVID is happening, but we can also say something and stand strong these times," Campana said.
Both Campana and Figueroa hope the signs will be a starting point for others to create.
"Just seeing a sign out there," Figueroa said. "It draws people in and is like 'wow what can I do to spread a loving message instead of continuing to spread this fear?' So I hope that it brings positivity into at least the rest of their day and that they themselves will find ways to continue that positivity which is going to be so important right now."
To date, Living Walls has commissioned thirty artists to create banners. 25 of these artists will be creating hand-painted banners to be installed all over Atlanta, and five artists will be designing for digital billboards as part of a collaboration with Orange Barrel Media.
For more information or to support the campaign, visit the Living Walls website.
The digital billboards can be found downtown at the following locations:
- Barry Lee: Reverb Hotel (89 Olympic, Fernleaf Park Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30313)
- Nick Sheridan: The American Hotel Atlanta Downtown (160 Ted Turner Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30303)
- Sofahood: The Westin Peachtree Plaza (210 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303)
- Ron Lewis: The Westin Peachtree Plaza (210 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303)
- Kersten Rebecca: Peachtree Center MARTA Station
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