Artist: Jean Wilson Freeman. Live Big Mural on Stone Avenue
What was the inspiration behind the piece?
Well, originally it was going to be a different building with a much smaller, more accessible wall. That fell through about two weeks before painting was to begin. My goal was always to paint the whole side of the building — I just didn’t realize it would be so large. I completely changed my design so that the windows and door would not take away from the concept. The building had just been painted this grayish navy — we decided to use the background. I came up with a sort of midnight garden concept. I wanted the colors to really pop off the neutral color, and we wanted to reference the mid-century modern history of this great old building, the United Building. To carry the design all the way to the top, some wonderful off-duty firefighters came out and maneuvered me and my friend Michelle around in the bucket for five hours, which enabled us to get the painting finished out where ladders and scaffolding could not reach. It was truly an “it takes a village” project.
How long did the piece take to create?
It took three weeks: first and third mostly me alone; second week with tons of volunteers and great help from Stone Academy parents, students, Furman students and the art department; the Greenville Fire Department. It was a fantastic experience and every time I see the wall, which is often, it reminds me of what you can do with a group of great people working together for something they all care about. I feel so lucky to have been the artist on this project — but also to be a part of the Stone Mural Project every year.
What is your favorite part of the piece? Why?
Love the quote on one of the swirly stems: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” I had so much fun painting the mural — the camaraderie of the project and being out on Stone Ave. talking to people about it for three weeks.
I’m co-chair of the mural project, and to me this quote sums up how i feel about the project and public art and involving children in public art. It’s a kind of “brighten the corner where you are” sensibility: There are things we can all do — and do well — to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.