A public art initiative related to the Super Bowl is giving artist Yehimi A. Cambrón Álvarez a platform to share the stories of immigrants. Álvarez was born in México and is undocumented in America after being brought here as a child.
“Being such a young artist, to be Mexican, to be undocumented, to be a woman, for me to be creating in such important, large, public spaces in Atlanta, is a huge, huge deal for me,” she said.
Cambrón Álvarez, 26, painted “Monuments: We Carry The Dreams” as part of WonderRoot and the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee’s neighborhood-spanning mural project, “Off the Wall: Atlanta’s Civil Rights & Social Justice Journey.”
Cambrón Álvarez’s mural depicts the faces of some Atlanta residents, who are also undocumented.
“One of them is an entrepreneur. Some of them are high school students. Some of them are students at Freedom University,” Cambrón Álvarez, who works as a Teach for America educator in Atlanta, said. “With everything they are doing, that they are striving for, they are carrying the dreams of their parents and their grandparents on their shoulders.
Phrases written around their faces are messages they shared with her, such as “It’s the voice of their sacrifices.”
“I really want my work to be a space that people can use to share their stories in a way that is not censored or filtered or sugar-coated,” she said. “I think it really depends on the person reading the words, the person standing in front of the mural, and how they interact with it. But I think that it’s something for everyone to take away.”
Ahead of Super Bowl LIII, Atlanta’s rich history and culture are being showcased on walls throughout the city.
“Atlanta has no greater contribution than it’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. And it’s important for us to remember that in this moment in time, 2019, there’s really amazing work that’s happening around various human rights, social justice issues,” Chris Appleton, co-founder and executive director of WonderRoot, said.
The project began in June 2018 and “emerged out of some conversations around community identity and community storytelling,” Appleton said.
The Selection and Nomination Committee, composed of community leaders, artists and arts professionals, chose 10 artists hailing from Atlanta, Miami, Baltimore, New Orleans and México to be a part of the project.
A public vote selected middle school art teacher Muhammad Yungai to be the 11th Off the Wall muralist. His piece, “Community Roots” in Castleberry Hill, displays students from the local historically black colleges and universities.
“I believe education is the biggest thing that we can do as a culture to ensure that everyone can achieve the life they want,” Yungai told the Associated Press.
Currently, there are seven completed Off the Wall murals throughout the city. More will be completed this year.
- Shanequa Gay’s “excuse me while I kiss the sky,” Vine City MARTA Station
- Loss Prevention’s “Beloved Community,” 222 Mitchell St. SW
- Ernest Shaw’s “Atlanta Strong,” The Home Depot Backyard. 1 Backyard Way, Atlanta
- Loss Prevention’s “Intersectional Heroes,” Metropolitan Building 20 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta
- Brandan “B-Mike” Odums’ “Love and Protection,” 171 Mitchell St.
- Charmaine Minniefield’s “Visionary for Justice: Honoring Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson and the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC),” 904 Martin Luther King Jr Dr. SW, Atlanta.
- Yehimi A. Cambrón Álvarez’s “Monuments: We Carry the Dreams,” 170 Piedmont Ave. SE, Atlanta