Circa April 2020, many local artists were getting together to add color to an otherwise dark time in the pandemic. The decision to join the movement was made within seconds of me rolling my painting cart across the street, spotting a blank board, and getting started.
I’m not particularly proud of my actual mural (I'd painted it all in 2.5 hours before the sun went down!), but am immensely proud of how it organically became a symbol of hope within our community.
The trees frame a small message you need to walk up close to see: isn’t she lovely. Frankly I’d just been listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder at the time, but I chose the message because of its broad nature — so a passer-by would pause for a moment to reflect on their lovely partner, mama, or even mother nature.
In the coming months, a lot of street art was spray-painted on the panels to the right of this one. I couldn't help but be tickled pink each time Warby Parker painted over the neighboring panels, all-the-while never laying a finger on mine.
I was also surprised that my panel was never vandalized. The layout was practically asking for it — trees framing an essentially empty canvas. Yet while all the nooks and crannies of Hayes Street were covered with both masterpieces and atrocities alike through all the anger and confusion of this especially scary time, my panel remained pure.
And *thank you* to the hundreds of instagrammers (and tik-tokers?) who selected this spot as a selfie background time and time again. 💕
It takes no art critic to see the artist behind these was clearly a ball of stress. I’d painted these during my third year @ UVA, when the demands of the McIntire School of Commerce were hard enough, but tacking on a painting double-major spared absolutely no wiggle room for free time. Clearly I used studio time as a cathartic escape as I navigated my rigorous academic schedule, as well as thoughts on who I wanted to be when I “grew up”.
In the Baby portrait, you can faintly see 'Hope for the Flowers and Feel the Rain' — world famous Jack Lindgren had just given me the book Hope for the Flowers days prior. This 20-minute read served as a stark turning point in how I thought about my careers and generally how I wished to live my life (for years afterwards I spread the gospel and made all my i-banking friends read it as well).
These are clearly much more experimental than most of my work, and also reek of anxiety and isolation. While I definitely don't have them hung up in my home, I’ve grown to appreciate how unapologetically my younger self captured and exposed the raw feelings of this pivotal chapter.