MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lauren Kennedy is the executive director of the UrbanArt Commission, an organization that creates opportunities for local artists and neighborhoods to connect.
“All of our neighborhoods in Memphis deserve to have really beautiful experiences that reflect those spaces and what is important to the people in them,” she told WREG’s Corie Ventura. “We just think that it’s really important for people to be able to access art on their walk to the grocery store, driving home from work.”
The UrbanArt Commission makes art accessible by teaming up with the city on sculpture projects for parks, ceramic work plus murals for community centers like the one on the side of Bickford Community Center.
Daniella Sierra, the artist of that mural, has received positive feedback from neighbors on the artwork.
“Before I would come out and sit on my front porch, I really didn’t have anything to look at. But now, I just come out and drink my coffee and I just stare at the mural,” Sierra recalled one neighbor as saying. “You just made me feel really proud of this community.”
Before even starting the project, Sierra said the neighborhood was the first stop for input.
“There was kind of this running joke. I want to see me. Paint me on the mural. And I started to take that to heart,” Sierra said.
“The people you see standing on the mural, those are all the people who live in this community or are involved in this community center,” Sierra said.
It’s no secret that the art community was hit hard by the pandemic. The UrbanArt Commission was able to find creative ways to keep projects moving and even made grants available for the artists. That’s why our anonymous donor wanted to give the organization $1,000, because sometimes you don’t need a ticket for admission to see art. All you need to do it look around.
They are a true community changer.