This past week, Asheville artist Jon Graham and I wrapped up "Tumblefield," a mural sponsored by the thoughtful and diligent Norcross Public Arts Commission (NPAC). This mural is the first of many NPAC-sponsored art works in Skin Alley – their future "artway" – and they wanted to do it right. They had a creative focus group, public meetings, and community input. In that process, we were tasked with creating a whimsical concept inspired by nature, Norcross history and community.
The foxes at play became the obvious choice. It wouldn't be another small town mural – it would fulfill the mission of NPAC – "to create and support art and cultural projects that transform public space, to cultivate a growing arts community" – and be a destination for locals and visitors alike. It would tell us folks from Atlanta that Norcross has an art scene worth checking out. That Norcross embraces its creative capital. That Norcross loves art and artists.
This was my first large-scale collaboration. Jon painted the oversized foxes; I created the environment in which they were to play. We harmoniously combined our styles to capture the whimsical spirit of the space. People love the foxes and get drawn into the space upon seeing them. Up close, they can see the details in the background - brick paver patterns that are a nod to Norcross' historical architecture; magpies as omens of change that encourage strength, new perspectives and perseverance; porcupine quills for good luck; linear elements to reference the railroad and one's journey upward and onward; circles to represent the community, where individuals come together as building blocks towards a greater good.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this experience. It was a true collaboration - not just with another artist, but with the community at large. The successful end product was the culmination of a rigorous process steeped in building relationships, trust and community conversations.
Thank you Norcross!