Artist Shanequa Gay (M.F.A. ’19) created a mural as part of a city-wide initiative led by the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee and the arts nonprofit WonderRoot. Her mural in the Vine City MARTA station, “Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky,” is a tribute to homeless teens she met from Covenant House.
Shortly after Shanequa Gay was selected to paint a mural for “Off the Wall,” a public art initiative planned around Super Bowl LIII showcasing Atlanta’s place in the Civil Rights movement and its pursuit of social justice, she met with several homeless teenagers from the Covenant House.
The meeting was part of her creative process as well as part of the message. The project, the work of the arts organization WonderRoot and the Super Bowl LIII Host Committee, brought together a handful of emerging artists to create public art installations in homage to the Super Bowl host city’s movements for justice.
“In Atlanta, we have a chronic homeless problem — there are people sleeping under bridges, under houses, under trees,” Gay said. “I was really moved by these young people and their struggles, and I wanted to bring those struggles to light.”
Gay’s mural, titled “Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky” at the Vine City Marta station, silhouettes nine of the youths she met at the Covenant House amid flora and flowers native to Georgia. The stunning mural spans the walls and concrete supports in the station.
“I took pictures of the kids and had them make ‘kissy faces’ to create some vulnerability to them – they were all trying to be super cool,” she said.
Gay, who will earn her Master of Fine Arts degree this spring, has exhibited her art in the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, the Chattanooga African-American Museum, the Hudgens Center for the Arts and more, and her work is in the private collection of actor Samuel Jackson and former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Photo and video courtesy of WonderRoot