In 2009, a conference called Living Walls invited street artists and urban planners to convene, collaborate, and create public works of art together. The goal was to produce thought-provoking public art, to inspire social change, and to re-examine urban planning around Atlanta. It was supposed to be a one-time event, but the people wanted more.
“Paradigm Shift” by 1010 at Peachtree Center
That meant Monica Campana suddenly needed to raise $13,000 for a second Living Walls conference. She launched a successful crowdfunding campaign, but was still short $4,000 and running out of time, so Mailchimp covered the balance.
Living Walls grew from a DIY grassroots project to a full-fledged nonprofit organization, and everything changed. Monica grew as a leader, organizer, and manager right alongside it. Along the way, the organization put up more than 100 walls on a shoestring budget, and transformed the landscape of ATL forever.
It was hard work, but not everyone was happy. Controversy followed several artistic choices. But in the end, the lessons learned pushed Living Walls to focus on community engagement and social justice advocacy.
Living Walls decided to put intentionality at the forefront of their work and step outside of the typical street art formula. Instead of reshaping a city, it decided to help communities amplify and express their voices. They committed to acting as an economic engine for ATL's local creatives while creating spaces for black, indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQIA communities.
Monica Campana Living Walls staff: Ivan Solis, Monica Campana, Kristen Consuegra Monica Campana Living Walls staff: Ivan Solis, Monica Campana, Kristen Consuegra
Once more, the change is working. Now in their 11th year, Living Walls operates a $700,000 budget, investing more than $100,000 in artists. They’re training artists to share their voice, protect their creative work, and add value to Atlanta’s public spaces.