CODA Mural Team
How many college students can say they helped create a major mural that brightens their city’s landscape? At Rhodes College, four students can. When Memphis business executive and Rhodes College Trustee Chick Hill was looking for four students associated with the Rhodes Center for Outreach in the Development of the Arts (CODA) to help paint a mural on one of his downtown properties located directly across from AutoZone Park, he chose us.
As Mural Project Managers, we facilitated nearly everything for the Rhodes-Hill Mural. We researched how murals are made, arranged to have the wall refinished, wrote a RFP (Request For Proposal), sent out a national call for artists, developed a project budget, and created a committee of community leaders who helped select our artist, Jeff Zimmerman. After picking Jeff and having him draft an image, we presented our proposal to the city to have it approved. From there, we managed technical issues related to the mural being painted and also interacting with the press.
Jeff has created a different type of community mural -- not a flat painting that shows the history of the city, but one about the present and future with provocative images and vibrant colors. Every time we look at the mural we notice something new, so we are confident that Memphians will be able to continue exploring and enjoying it for a long time to come. As we wrote in a press release, “The design for the mural does not offer easy answers. The meanings aren’t clear, and everyone will have different interpretations of what this mural says about our city. But everyone can agree that it brightens the landscape, and offers proof to every citizen, no matter how young, that we can make a different in Memphis.”
We should add that the mural wouldn’t have come to fruition without the help of many great people: Liz Daggett (CODA Coordinator), John Weeden with the UrbanArt Commission, Mr. Hill, panel members, and much of the Rhodes staff and many, many more. Thank you guys!
Carly Agre ’11
Major: Latin American Studies
I have learned more than I could have imagined from this project. There is much more involved in the process of making a mural than you would think! I have also learned what four college students can accomplish, and learned about a unique kind of community service. That was one of our goals --we wanted the mural as a piece of art to give back to the community. In fact, I think that public art in itself also makes a difference in the community.
Shelby Long ’11
Majors: International Studies and German
I have learned so much from the entire mural process about myself and about Memphis. The most important thing I’ve learned, however, is the power of art. Art is more than just beautification, because that beautification and positive influence change the way people feel about their neighborhoods and their community. Art can revitalize a city. The mural raises a lot of questions about Memphis identity and about the issues we face as a city. We hope that people take the time to think about these questions and that the mural prompts dialogue among neighbors and neighborhoods.
Meghan Wilcox ’11
Major: Art History
Art—particularly public art because of its accessibility—can be a great way of bringing people together from all walks of life. It can broaden not only the aesthetic quality of the city but its capacity for compassion and desire for improvement. I think the mural already has and will continue to have a very positive impact on the Memphis community. I think it will spark other projects like this around the city and possibly encourage others to get out there and do things to improve both the visual landscape and the social landscape, promoting better communication and cooperation among individuals.
Luke Branim ’10
It’s very hard to put into words exactly how much a project like this means not only to myself and my co-workers, but to the city itself. Everything, from the organization and planning to the implementation and completion, has been focused around bringing people together. This piece of public art is not simply a pretty picture on an old building, but is representative of the change that is occurring in Memphis right now. The way in which the mural was received by the community at large is indicative that we as a city are not only ready for growth, we welcome it with open arms.