Over the past seven years, Atlanta’s annual street art conference Living Walls has become a powerful tool for public engagement in the city, reaching far beyond aesthetics, and often stimulating socio-political discourse. Headed up by Peru-native Monica Campana, the conference has contributed to the creation of over 100 thought-provoking mural works since its inception in 2009, inviting artists from across the country to conceive pieces that reflect on the unique identities of each ATL neighborhood. For its latest edition, the Living Walls Conference has decided to spotlight the experiences of women and LGBTQ people of color, and they will be making their message all the more powerful by bringing the conference to Buford Highway, home to Atlanta’s densest and most diverse immigrant community.
Scheduled for September 14th – 17th and free to the general public, this year’s conference is being developed in partnership with Marian Liou’s We Love BuHi, a long-time local culinary organization and champion of immigrant visibility in the multicultural heart of Metro Atlanta. Buford Highway boasts some of the city’s largest Latino and Pan-Asian communities, also serving as a destination for hungry locals and curious visitors looking to sample international cuisine. Atlanta has been a beacon of diversity and inclusivity since its founding in 1839, due largely to the city’s historic importance as a mass transportation hub. By bringing these installations to Buford Highway, conference organizers hope to amplify the voices of local residents, adding dimension to the challenges they face as they stave off gentrification and live through an increasingly nationalist political climate.
With a schedule that includes panels, tours, film screenings, and a massive night market extravaganza on Saturday September 16th, Living Walls is also committing to its message of intersectionality by featuring artists like Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Best known for creating art that tackles gender-based street harassment, Fazlalizadeh will contribute a mural celebrating local trans activist Estrella Sanchez. Other artist highlights include Michelle Angela Ortiz of Philadelphia’s deportation-awareness “Familias Separadas” project, the colorful whimsy of Brazilian muralist Yoyo Ferro, and Lenny Correa, a New Jersey based Ecuadorian artist, activist and educator who will participate in the conference’s lecture portion on September 14th. Saturday’s night market promises to be the weekend’s biggest event, featuring vendors from the immense array of neighborhood restaurants and local DJs and performers like Chicano hometown rap hero Kap G, Korean-American DJ Mikkoh and La Choloteca’s DJ Florista.
Make sure to swing through the Living Walls Conference and sample the bevy of flavors, art, and stories that make Buford Highway a unique Southern community worth lifting and protecting.