Georgia’s beloved civil rights leader Hosea Williams would have turned 95 on Jan 5th, the day Georgians voted in the Senate runoff.
In the six weeks leading up to this historic election, an interactive, non-partisan, exclusively positive public art installation took root at Atlanta’s iconic Hosea mural.
Under the initiative, artist Fabian Williams (aka Occasional Superstar) returned to revitalize the 4-story work to become Georgia’s first glow-in-the-dark mural. Underneath, artists and activists created a joyful place to gather safely, decorating the site with fairy lights, handmade ornaments, and hundreds of strips of red, white, and blue fabric. Community members tied inspirational messages to the garlands and yarn-wrapped trees.
Vote Tree’s live art + music activation on Jan 3 featured local emergent artists, particularly women and underrepresented voices. In a single afternoon, artists collaborated to transform a chain-link construction fence into Dear America: A Chain-link Love Letter From Atlanta (pass it on).
The exuberant 250′ murallage was featured across news outlets and social media, including Raphael Warnock’s Instagram post the day before the election and the opening frames of the Season 6 premiere of Showtime’s The Circus.
The art is not the point. The point is the process.
Thanks to the collective might of our partners, efforts to increase early voter and absentee vote numbers made all the difference. Vote Tree’s digital messaging, instant registration QR site signage, and guerrilla-style ‘artvasing’ tactics delivered dramatic and measurable impact. When all the glitter settled, our creative GOTV effort helped Block Power deliver 24.4K Georgians to the polls.
Judges of the juried activation included muralist Fabian Williams @occasionalsuperstar, Hosea Williams’ daughter, Barbara Emerson Williams, and globally acclaimed Change The Ref artist Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was one of the 17 victims of the Parkland massacre. Several participating artists are offering their designs as original canvases, posters, and apparel. Take home a piece of history to support the artists and help raise funds to preserve the mural.
While the election is over, the work continues. Join us as we create a lasting impact in Atlanta and honor Williams’ dream for universal voter participation.
GA VOTE TREE TEAM LEADERS
Jacqueline, a political science major at Clark Atlanta University, spearheads Vote Tree’s Block Power Ambassador recruitment.
Jacqueline’s activism focuses on gun violence prevention, anti-police brutality, and pro-black movements. She is perhaps best known for organizing an anti-police brutality protest with over 25,000 attendees, resulting in hundreds of new voter registrations. She serves on the Youth Congress of March for Our Lives in the Artivism committee. Hewlett Packard recently named her as an HP Youth Changemaker and featured her efforts in its Generation Z campaign. Jacqueline is also the co-founder of J & H New Beginnings, a grassroots organization that manufactures and distributes care packages to struggling families, the homeless, and low-income college students.
Demetrius is an acclaimed Atlanta photographer & change-maker. He brings a critical lens to everything from joyous life-cycle events to social justice civic protests to the presidential transfer of power.
Prior to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, Demetrius had been working on a photo travel project covering (to date) South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Japan, Hong Kong, Fiji, Cuba and Amsterdam. He plans to resume the project in 2021. Demetrius has been featured/interviewed in Voyage ATL (VoyageATL), and has been featured in several photo exhibitions. He is a staunch believer in equal rights, voters’ rights, and doesn’t hold his tongue when it comes to fighting for those causes.
Check out his recent feature in Shout Out Atlanta.
● The Dean Collection – Bacardi Rum Room, Group Exhibition, American Cut, Atlanta, GA, Curated
by The Dean Collection 2018
● The Art of Bloom, Group Exhibition, GSU Dahlberg Hall, Atlanta, GA, Curated by Ife Okwumabua
● Naturally You, Solo Exhibition, FUSE Arts Center, Atlanta, GA, Curated by Demetrius Williams
Website: Usual Suspects Photography LLC
DR. BARBARA WILLIAMS EMERSON
Barbara is the daughter of the late Hosea Williams and a veteran activist, academic leader, consultant, and the driving force behind Atlanta’s Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless, dinners started by her family nearly 50 years ago.
Having started as a voter registration organizer at age fifteen, her involvement with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s @Southern Christian Leadership Conference took her to civil rights movements in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Washington, D. C., Illinois, and New York. She participated in the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, directed by her father Hosea Williams.
Dr. Emerson worked with the Congress on Racial Equality in Harlem, NY, organized the anniversary march of the 1987 Forsythe County March against Fear and Intimidation, managed her father’s bid for Congress, and has participated in “Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless” since her family started the dinners nearly 50 years ago.
Dr. Emerson lectures nationally and internationally on the Civil Rights Movement and her father’s contributions, including King Day celebrations in Corvallis, Ore., Newburgh, NY, Phoenix, AZ and the Department of and at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and the University of Peking in China. She appeared in “Living Selma,” and “1964” produced by Ambassador Andrew Young, and “Hosea Williams: The Untold Story” Recently, she shared the stage with the daughters of Bishop Desmond Tutu and Malcolm X, reflecting on how growing up with men who changed the world informed their own activism and careers as change makers.
Dr. Emerson holds a B.A. from New York University and master and doctorate degrees from Columbia University. Her career included faculty, administrative, and Vice President positions at City University of New York, the New School for Social Research, Audrey Cohen College, and the International College of the Cayman Islands. She is the first Vice President of “Be the Change PEOPLE” which provides educational support for students in Uganda, East Africa, and is on the Board of SCOPE50 which Dr. King commissioned in 1965 to carry out voter education and political educational. President of Emerson Consultants with offices in New York and Atlanta, Dr. Emerson is a citizen of the world having visited 52 countries and counting.
Fabian Williams (aka Occasional Superstar) is the renowned Atlanta artist behind the Hosea mural. His 30+ social justice monumental murals are beloved across the city.
He received a BFA from East Carolina University in Illustration. After working for 13 years in the advertising industry with a long list of clients from Nike, Warner Bros to HBO, he decided to move to a purely expressive practice outside of the commercial space where he had the freedom to express more political and socially relevant contemporary themes.
In 2009, He created the World Wide Art Federation, a performance art battle series. The WWAF mixes the swag of Ric Flair with the skill of Bob Ross. Artist must dress up in character and talk trash then paint against each other in a competitive art competition. The winner like in wrestling receives a belt.
His current exhibition series, Contraption will feature, paintings, film and sculpture at Notch 8 Gallery in April 2016.
Recently, as an extension of The Contraption, he created The Merica Show, a kid show for adults, complete with puppets and animation, which the pilot will premiere in November 2015.
No relation to Hosea Williams or Barbara Williams…the universe is just cool like that.
Learn more about Fabian: occationalsuperstar.com
JACQUELINE VON EDELBERG
Jacqueline is an artist, activist, social entrepreneur, and unapologetic ‘nasty woman.’ With two decades of applying creative thinking to seemingly intractable real-world challenges, she is nationally recognized for her public art on gun violence, immigration, and LGBTQ+ issues. She’s passionate about building coalitions, glittery movements, and digital platforms that drive civic engagement and create systemic change.
Jacqueline is perhaps best known for spearheading the revitalization of Nettelhorst Elementary, an underutilized and under-enrolled public school in Chicago, an effort outlined in her book, How to Walk to School: Blueprint for a Neighborhood School Renaissance.
Manuel is the father of Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, who was murdered in Parkland, Florida, on February 14/2018, during the MSD high school mass shooting. He is an artist, Creative Director, and recognizable mentor for the Advertising Industry. Gun Safety Campaigner, Global Activist, and International Speaker.
Manuel Immigrated to Parkland from Venezuela, has dedicated himself to a particular brand of not-so-subtle activism. He started a non-profit advocacy group called “Change the Ref,” which seeks to vote out politicians who take NRA money and vote in politicians with gun-safety agendas. Manuel uses his artist training and guerilla advertising instincts to focus on “Guac” and the more than 40K victims/year from gun violence in the US. He has painted more than 45 murals around the country and received invitations from international events to share his activism and creative solutions regarding gun violence, has received more than five creative international awards for his disruptive campaigns, supported the American Medical Community with “Impossible Operation Campaign,”. Developed sympathy to the youth by showing a rebellious response to the gun lobby and putting together music projects along with recognized musicians. Promoted and support four documentaries that show the reality behind gun violence. He created the “Museum of Incomplete” as a way to give exposure to other victims that otherwise would have been ignored by society.
To create more awareness, he developed a theater play “Guac My Son, my Hero” along with recognized talents from Broadway and the support from Live Nation. He challenged Corporate America by bringing for the first time a “Gun Safety Certification Program” that represents a new way of consuming goods and services in our country.
He developed the “Guac Talks” as a new stage platform for Gun Violence prevention leaders to share their ideas with no filters or cultural barriers.
“My love for the word and knowledge is infinite” –Joaquin Oliver-
“Gun violence is beyond schools, beyond Parkland and even beyond our amazing son Joaquin.” –Manuel Oliver-
Cleigaie is an independent curator, arts professional, and artist advocate dedicated to representing and creating inclusive and equitable opportunities for local artists and creatives while diversifying community exposure to art and culture. She currently serves as, Project Manager of Future Dead Artists and 2020-2021 Exhibition Juror for Art on the Atlanta Beltline.
Over the last two years Cleigaie has managed and executed over fifteen fine art exhibitions, community outreach workshops and artist open calls enlisting local, national and international artists to share their works with new patrons and collectors in metro Atlanta. In 2019 she debuted as head curator of Dead Ringer Vol. III, Future Dead Artists’ annual juried group exhibition, featuring a unique concept of the creative inspiration processes between visual artists and photographers.
Possessing a deep interest representation and cultural awareness within communities Cleigaie is dedicated to the equity of funding and access to opportunities that develop for a more inclusive arts ecology where every creative, no matter their affiliation can thrive and inspire.
She has been published in both Visionary Artistry Magazine and Voyage ATL. And as a passionate volunteer has worked with MOCA GA, Sinclair Gallery and various other arts organizations and independent artists around Atlanta. Reach Clei @noigclei
JP MCCHESNEY Founder + SHANA SALYER Community Ambassador
Tamara is an author, lecturer, and media consultant is a child of German Jewish parents who escaped Nazi Germany at the brink of World War ll. She is dedicated to empowering families, friends, and communities to prevent radicalization, violence, and extremism.
As a participant in dialogue groups in Berlin that include former Nazis, Holocaust survivors and their descendants, Tamara has experienced first-hand both the extraordinary challenge and reward of engaging with those who at another time would have been her fiercest enemies.
A child of a Kindertransport survivor, she has been active in educating the public about this rescue mission. As media liaison for the Kindertransport Association she has placed stories pertaining to the Kindertransports in major national/international print media, radio, tv and cable.
Tamara continues to give talks, sits on panels and offers workshops about her experiences with Nazi/Survivor dialogue groups, the Kindertransports, the German Jewish narrative and her struggles to save her family’s Art Nouveau department store (now an historic monument) that was stolen by the Nazis.
Tamara also meets and collaborates with former Alt Right, White Supremacists and KKK members for the purpose of reconciliation and education. She is currently working on a book of narratives about her legacy and reconciliation work. She also hosts a monthly second generation ‘Dinner and Dialogue’, carrying on the work of her grandmother, a salonnière in Berlin, Germany.
Tamara, through her company WorkWell, LLC has taught conflict resolution and cultural diversity courses for large corporations, smaller businesses, NGOs and the public. In 1984, she published Help Your Baby Build a Healthy Body (Crown Publishers/Japan Uni Agency).
Tamara is on the advisory board and speakers’ bureau for Parents For Peace an organization dedicated to empowering families, friends and communities to prevent radicalization, violence and extremism.
Jessica is a psychoanalyst, artist, and author who has been helping to move the mountain towards justice for decades as an organizer, administrator, and fundraiser.
She currently serves as the president of the International Control Mastery Therapy Center and serves on the Advisory Board for the Division of Equity and Inclusion at UC Berkeley. Through her family foundation, she has spent two decades spearheading progressive initiatives and voter registration.
As a Board member of the I Have a Dream: Oakland foundation, Jessica took a third grade class in urban Oakland all the way through college (picking up classmates along the way). She also founded and ran a low-fee training clinic in San Francisco that served hundreds of low income individuals needing long term therapy, while concurrently training many new psychologists though SFPRG.
For the past two years, Jessica has advised Reach Shirati, which founded an award-winning school in Tanzania. She is also a member of The Mentor Project which serves people internationally, and “Mask the World” which is involved in designing and distributing masks widely during COVID.
Click here to learn more.
SaraJo is a multidisciplinary artist working in a variety of materials and settings. Her work is informed by such disparate sources as the natural world, botany, abstraction, textiles, non-western cultures, pattern migration, and breaking down barriers between the intersection of fine art, craft, and design.
As a daughter of the Diaspora; her Jewish Hungarian émigré grandparents owned an embroidery shop in Los Angeles, and their home was a visual mecca filled with art books, bohemian glass, netsukes, and examples of traditional folk textiles from Hungary. Her work reflects a hybrid of these influences along with those of California’s diverse Pacific Rim communities where she was raised and continues to live.
She infuses all of this into her work: a joy of color and experimentation with different mediums–acrylic, gouache, flashe, spray paint, paper, canvas, and found fabrics. She employs methodologies that include painting, collage, cut ups, sewing, intricate pattern cutting, and shaping. In the past few years, she has expanded her paintings into wall installations that she assembles on site. These methods have led to new avenues of exploration and play, creating a cast of evolving characters coalescing one way in one space, only to lead new lives in a future space.
Her work is a conversation, an exploration of color, shape, line, and form. She experiments with different mediums and employ a variety of methodologies–collage, cut ups, juxtaposition–as a way of incorporating chance and cultivating surprise. She is a hunter and gatherer of images, mining the organic and man-made, the history of abstraction, textiles, non-Western cultures, and digital imaging, to bring together a multiplicity of discordant sources. She attempts to locate new ways of knitting together disparate references while questioning how perceptions are created. A fluid relationship with the idea of what beauty can be–stumbling or walking backward into an awkward beauty–is what interests her. This way of working is useful in opening doors, dislocating preconceived outcomes, and enabling shifts of perception and the limitless possibilities they suggest.
Disparate vocabularies–the language of signifiers, symbols, and patterns–wander through her work. For years she studied dance, and often thinks a more apt word to describe what I do is choreography. Playing with movement and form in two-dimensional space, she tries to engage materials spontaneously, improvisationally, and deliberately. For Sarajo, painting is creating a space that allows for ambiguity and invites experimentation; it’s about possibility and not knowing all the answers.
Hannah is a SF Bay Area print and digital designer with 20+ years of experience helping clients develop their brands and connect with their communities.
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Find the Hosea Williams mural, behind the Studioplex parking lot. GPS: 22 Airline St. SE, Old Fourth Ward.
Reach Vote Tree from the Beltline path. Stop by the good folks at Bennett’s Market and Guac y Margys to say hey.
A pedestrian path connects the Vote Tree installation to the Beltline.
From the Beltline, spot the the red, white, and blue mural by Dancing Dogs Yoga. Climb the stairs and follow the pathway behind StudioPlex to Janke Glass Studios (say Hey to Matt, the first artist to contribute to the Vote Tree). Skip through the parking garage to find our glitter.
Loop around Airline St, to the south end of the StudioPlex garage.
Do not park on the south side of the street, in front of the construction area.
To carefully inspect the mural’s gilded hieroglyphs, land chopper on StudioPlex roof. Carefully shimmy down garage scaffold.GOOGLE MAP TO VOTE TREE
VoteTree and the Hosea Williams Mural is located in Sweet Auburn / Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta’s Historic Martin Luther King Jr. District. In the 1960’s, Sweet Auburn was the commercial center of Black Atlanta; and in 1956, Fortune Magazine named it “The richest Negro street in America.” Its unofficial mayor was civil rights activist John Wesley Dobbs, the maternal grandfather of Atlanta’s first African American mayor, Maynard Jackson.
© 2020 Forever Jacqueline von Edelberg. All rights reserved.
Make no small plans.