300 East M.L. King Blvd, Chattanooga, TN Sher-Cryl High Performance Acrylic, non-woven media 42,179 ft2, 2015.
The MLK Mural is vintage with a twist. At first glance it is a massive painting in the style of traditional, inspirational murals. Look further, however, as it reveals the complex cultural dynamics along M.L. King Blvd in Chattanooga, TN. There are over 900 roads in the U.S. named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many share similar stories to this one. This work reclaims an entire city block with lush color and locally-sourced imagery in an area undergoing rapid gentrification. What will happen today as this street transforms once again? The mural holds a distinct voice within this community’s ongoing dialogue. The mural gives a voice to those who strive for balance in reclaiming, reimagining, and reinventing this space, particularly as framed by racial identity and cultural endangerment. Each side of the building is a chapter within a multi-directional narrative, reconciling the past with a hopeful future. It reimagines aesthetics of classical realism and vintage Americana mural painting through contemporary subject matter and relevancy. All elements within the mural are culled directly from the site, the product of extensive local research and dialogue – this includes all depicted individuals, who were real, everyday Chattanoogans photographed by the artists. Imagery from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech served as major inspiration for this work, and also provided the title, We will not be satisfied until.