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Fabian Williams" Dungeon Family pyramid finds a new home

Damaged art installation turned into a poetic statement about the plight of Atlanta's homeless

The pyramids of ancient Egypt housed the bodies of pharaohs and other great leaders. Artist Fabian Williams' Dungeon Family Pyramid on the Atlanta Beltline began as a unique work of art, only to end as housing for living visitors.

Like other historic monuments, the Dungeon Family project faced challenges in execution. A well-intentioned Kickstarter campaign fell significantly short of the $10,000 goal prior to the pyramid's proposed Sept. 14, 2014, goal date. Working as a full-time solo artist and entrepreneur without a staff proved to be overwhelming. "If you're not prepared to do a full-on campaign, you may as well not even do it," Williams says.

Tired but undeterred, Williams ultimately secured funds from Art on the Atlanta Beltline. The launch of the project fell behind and was not installed until November 2014. The original team of artists he enlisted to help was no longer available. "A lot of people I had lined up couldn't do it, so I wanted to do it myself," he says.

The delayed launch also affected materials. The outer surfaces, but not the internal skeleton, were waterproofed. The change of seasons made the construction obstacles more visible, yet welcoming — a person or people sought the pyramid as a shield from the elements. "It was never built to be shelter," Williams says. "I immediately suspected somebody would try to make it a home."

Williams considered accommodating indigent visitors by adding a floor and even building a door for easier access. Ericka Brown Davis, communications and media relations director for Atlanta Beltline Inc., shared her concerns. "Fabian is a good person with a good heart. He wanted to install light, shelves, and leave books," she says, adding that Williams' enhancements were flatly declined. "It's not safe."

Williams entered the Beltline art fray to pay homage to Atlanta's musical royalty, the Dungeon Family, a 20-plus-member collective who pioneered the eclectic hip-hop sounds of OutKast and Goodie Mob. After many ideas and sketches, he designed a small-scale model of what was to become the 8-foot-tall and 12-foot-wide pyramid.

Last July, Williams was selected as one of 100 visual and performance artists to create original work for temporary display along the Beltline. The pyramid, to be placed at the Beltline's 11.7-mile marker, came after the close of OutKast's 40-city world tour. Building a standing structure seemed like the perfect way to honor the Dungeon Family's influence on his creativity.

"When I listen to their music, I see pyramids and UFOs," he says. "A lot of art is done from feeling and that's what I felt."

The determined visual artist consulted DF member Backbone to gain insight into the way the members could be depicted. The final product was created with four sides featuring a muscled André 3000, an angelic-looking Big Boi, Goodie Mob, Joi, Janelle Monaé, Organized Noize, Big Rube, and a hieroglyphic wall with all members listed in name. The piece was topped by a clear glass capstone, which Williams wanted to originally use to filter lasers in a light display that "allows smoke to escape like a beacon from the highway." The lights were banned by the Beltline, as they could present a fire hazard.

In March, Beltline officials informed Williams that the glass capstone was missing. It was never replaced. By May, he was contacted not only to learn that the bottom hieroglyphic panel was removed, but there appeared to be evidence of someone living inside. Williams posted video to his Instagram page, @occasionalsuperstar, revealing the damage and evidence of inhabitation: several pairs of sneakers, sleeping bags, backpacks, and trash. "I'm not really mad at it. It's shelter. I just wish they would keep it clean tho," reads the caption under the video.

The contract Williams had with the Beltline stipulated that no artwork could be used as shelter. "From the inside it's no longer art," Davis says. "We appreciate the beauty of what Williams did, but it is now damaged artwork." Williams was given a week to remove it. The pyramid's tenants were never seen, but evidence of their presence shined a light on a very real problem.

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs reported that at least 16,000 people were homeless in Georgia as of January 2014. Also, the Metro Atlanta Tri-Jurisdictional Collaborative on Homelessness (Tri-J) counted more than 6,000 people with inadequate housing listed as "living on the streets, in shelters, and transitional housing in the city and counties."

The structure's use as a form of shelter brought the poetry of Dungeon Family's Goodie Mob to new life. The sentiment in the musical content such as Khujo's verse in "Chain Swang" from the World Party album ring true: "Poverty stricken, hand pickin,' in the corner cleansin'/Lights out poor, slip and you nails hell." Goodie Mob and Khujo were even more direct on the existential "Is That You God" with the words, "I think about all the homeless folk when it rains."

Conversations about the unintended use of the artwork helped the pyramid itself find a new home. Through Instagram, Nuri Icgoren, founder of Urban Sprout Farms, contacted Williams to offer space within the farm's five acres. The pyramid's rebuilding date has yet to be announced.

"They had to find a place and move very soon, and we definitely have a space here," Icgoren says. "I love the Dungeon Family, anyway. Everything came together for a reason."

Remnants of the unseen visitor or visitors remained intact until the pyramid's disassembly in early June. Williams, Icgoren, and journalist Maurice Garland, along with the Beltline's design director E. Fred Yalouris and art and culture project coordinator Elan Buchen, took the pyramid down to prepare it for reassembly on the farm. Buchen is optimistic. "It's great to see it live on in a different form," he says. "To do a sculpture outdoors is ambitious."

Williams is still interested in using his art to raise awareness and is thinking ahead about possible issues. "I would love to make a piece that would serve as shelter for someone. I would have to consider people with mental illness," he says. "... There needs to be a place where people can rest their heads in dignity."



More By This Writer

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Article

Tuesday October 17, 2017 08:09 pm EDT
Shannon Barbour reflects on the festival's 2017 return | more...
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Andwele Gardner, better known simply as Dwele, is a true Detroit player, and a powerful, yet underrated force of nature in the post-Motown landscape. Dwele’s resume boasts of past collaborations with Kanye West, Slum Village, and the likes. But the Valentine’s Day-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist abandoned hip-hop long ago. These days his blend of live instruments with a warm, lush voice gives rise to a peace-loving neo-soul vibe. His next album is due out later this summer — his first since releasing 2012’s Greater Than One. In the meantime he’s on the road, revisiting songs such as  “I’m Cheatin,’” “I Think I Love You,” and “Find a Way.”

$30-$40. 9:30 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 5. City Winery, 650 North Ave., Ponce City Market. www.citywinery.com/Atlanta 404-WINERY1."
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Andwele Gardner, better known simply as [https://www.facebook.com/therealdwele/|Dwele], is a true Detroit player, and a powerful, yet underrated force of nature in the post-Motown landscape. Dwele’s resume boasts of past collaborations with Kanye West, Slum Village, and the likes. But the Valentine’s Day-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist abandoned hip-hop long ago. These days his blend of live instruments with a warm, lush voice gives rise to a peace-loving neo-soul vibe. His next album is due out later this summer — his first since releasing 2012’s ''Greater Than One''. In the meantime he’s on the road, revisiting songs such as  “I’m Cheatin,’” “I Think I Love You,” and “Find a Way.”

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Andwele Gardner, better known simply as Dwele, is a true Detroit player, and a powerful, yet underrated force of nature in the post-Motown landscape. Dwele’s resume boasts of past collaborations with Kanye West, Slum Village, and the likes. But the Valentine’s Day-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist abandoned hip-hop long ago. These days his blend of live instruments with a warm, lush voice gives rise to a peace-loving neo-soul vibe. His next album is due out later this summer — his first since releasing 2012’s Greater Than One. In the meantime he’s on the road, revisiting songs such as  “I’m Cheatin,’” “I Think I Love You,” and “Find a Way.”

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Tuesday January 3, 2017 04:31 pm EST
The neo-soul singer and songwriter delves into his back catalog while prepping his first new album since 2012 | more...
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Tuesday December 20, 2016 10:53 pm EST
Hometown rapper, singer, and multi-instrumentalist returns for his annual Christmas Eve concert | more...
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The tune also serves as the theme to We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, the outgoing first lady's film. It's also part of Day’s powerfully delivered live performances at the Democratic National Convention, a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, and a tribute to the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.Day’s voice, often described as “haunting,” gives even her most commercially successful work a deeper, more urgent sound than youth-driven pop fare. You could say she’s a student of the game in jazz vocals with classic sounds reaching back to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, or Amy Winehouse, in the more recent past.She stunned audiences in September during her performance at 2016's ONE Musicfest at Lakewood Amphitheatre —her first appearance at the festival.Details regarding what Day’s next album entails remain to be seen, but she’s interested in working with Laura Mvula and Esperanza Spaulding. "I'm planning on going back in the studio at the start of 2017 to work on a new record and doing one off days," she says."
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The tune also serves as the theme to ''[http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/11/opinions/cnn-films-we-will-rise-michelle-obama/index.html|We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World]'', the outgoing first lady's film. It's also part of Day’s powerfully delivered live performances at the Democratic National Convention, a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, and a tribute to the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.Day’s voice, often described as “haunting,” gives even her most commercially successful work a deeper, more urgent sound than youth-driven pop fare. You could say she’s a student of the game in jazz vocals with classic sounds reaching back to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, or Amy Winehouse, in the more recent past.She stunned audiences in September during her performance at 2016's [http://www.onemusicfest.com/|ONE Musicfest] at Lakewood Amphitheatre —her first appearance at the festival.Details regarding what Day’s next album entails remain to be seen, but she’s interested in working with Laura Mvula and Esperanza Spaulding. "[I'm planning on] going back in the studio at the start of 2017 to work on a new record and doing one off days," she says."
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  string(3121) "    The Stevie Wonder protege is on a roll   2016-11-29T21:42:00+00:00 Andra Day returns to 'Rise Up'   Shannon Barbour  2016-11-29T21:42:00+00:00  %{data-embed-type=%22image%22 data-embed-id=%22583ca99b38ab463e2c620c36%22 data-embed-element=%22span%22 data-embed-size=%22640w%22 contenteditable=%22false%22}%Since her introduction to the public as a Stevie Wonder protégée, Andra Day appears humbled and amazed by her success, commenting that she still “feels like an unknown.” But for anyone who watches awards shows or tributes, she's a household name.  Immediately following her Dec. 3 show at the Tabernacle, Day will head to Washington D.C. for the Kennedy Center Honors program on Dec. 4, airing Dec. 27. The San Diego by-way-of Spokane, Washington-bred singer, born Cassandra Monique Batie, is also set to receive the Powerhouse Award, the coveted Billboard Women in Music accolade recognizing outstanding vocalists, on Dec. 9. Day performed in a tribute to Marvin Gaye at last June’s Kennedy Center Honors, and she harmonized with Wonder in a holiday Apple Music commercial.Day’s star presence is still soaring from the chart-topping single “Rise Up,” from her debut album, Cheers to the Fall. The song has proven to be the perfect metaphor for her life and career, and has served as a rallying call for groups, particularly African American anti-violence organizations and the LGBT community, with its simple message of hope and resilience. In a March interview with Chicago's Windy City Times she stated: "I think "Rise Up" resonates with so many people, including the LGBT community, because it talks about perseverance. It talks about persevering through struggle, criticism and rejection. It's a simple message of determination for yourself and others, and I think the simplicity of that is what resonates with people the most."
The tune also serves as the theme to We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World, the outgoing first lady's film. It's also part of Day’s powerfully delivered live performances at the Democratic National Convention, a Hillary Clinton fundraiser, and a tribute to the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting.Day’s voice, often described as “haunting,” gives even her most commercially successful work a deeper, more urgent sound than youth-driven pop fare. You could say she’s a student of the game in jazz vocals with classic sounds reaching back to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, or Amy Winehouse, in the more recent past.She stunned audiences in September during her performance at 2016's ONE Musicfest at Lakewood Amphitheatre —her first appearance at the festival.Details regarding what Day’s next album entails remain to be seen, but she’s interested in working with Laura Mvula and Esperanza Spaulding. "I'm planning on going back in the studio at the start of 2017 to work on a new record and doing one off days," she says.             20845109         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/11/Music_Andra2_1_32.583dde2ee7e48.png                  Andra Day returns to 'Rise Up' "
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Tuesday November 29, 2016 04:42 pm EST
The Stevie Wonder protege is on a roll | more...
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ONE Musicfest’s seventh year was indeed one for the books. During the morning hours of Sept. 10, leading up to the noon opening time, attendees flocked to Lakewood Amphitheater. The much anticipated headlining performance of the entire Dungeon Family — André 3000 included — lead to a sold-out, packed-out event filled with a full day of top-notch shows from a diverse group of artists.

Earlier in the day, before the Dungeon Family’s historic reunion, fans braved the 94-degree heat to take in the afternoon’s performers.

East Coast, West Coast, and Down South artists attracted people from as far away as Canada, ONE Musicfest founder Jay Carter offered during a brief backstage chat.

First-time ONE Musicfest performer Andra Day, paused after her set to take pictures and talk about her experience. “I’m a fan of so many of the people performing today,” she said.

Anderson .Paak’s soulful funk drew a crowd to the outdoor stage. And as singer Jazmine Sullivan closed out her powerful set, Gary Clark, Jr. switched guitars at least three times to deliver his blues revivalist sound. Later, Busta Rhymes kicked off the salute to old-school hip-hop with crowd pleasers “Whoo Hah (I Got You All in Check)” and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.”

On the Zeus stage, Ice Cube took fans back to the late ’80s and early ’90s with hits from NWA and his solo albums such as “Straight Outta Compton,” “Jackin’ For Beats,” and “Check Yo Self” from the Friday soundtrack — it was a good day, indeed.

Erykah Badu returned to OMF with classics “On and On” and “Tyrone.” She even shouted out regions of the metro area like Stone Mountain and “East Purnt” — that’s East Point for the uninitiated. 

When the sun went down, OMF revelers turned up at the main stage for the stars of the show. The Dungeon Family moved the crowd with a rare performances of songs from their only collective album, Even in Darkness. Diehard fans sang along to “Follow the Light” and “Trans DF Express.”

André 3000 glided across the stage as though he were unaware of the heightened screams and applause at his presence. Organized Noize singer and producer, Sleepy Brown joined him on vocals for his metaphorically driven rhymes on “I Can’t Wait.”

Among the surprises of the night, Bonecrusher, T.I., and Killer Mike took the stage to perform “Never Scared.” Erykah Badu took the stage for “Liberation” from OutKast’s critically acclaimed album Aquemini. She and CeeLo Green stole the show with their strong vocals. DF closed the show with “Gangsta Shit” from Stankonia. 

After delivering so much in a one-day festival, it’s hard to imagine where ONE Musicfest can go next.

Unlike André’s social message jumpsuits of the 2014 OutKast tour, the Dungeon Family wore attire strictly to rep their city. CeeLo stood out in a Deion Sanders Falcons throwback jersey and guest Ed Lover got in on the act with a College Park T-shirt. And the timing of the DF reunion couldn’t have been better. In the same week of Donald Glover’s funny but gritty Atlanta series debuted on FX, the ATLien pride was undeniable. When the crowd jumped, they weren’t just enjoying a concert, they were celebrating over two decades of music and culture. They were honoring a city that some call a place with an identity crisis, while others recognize an influence so strong that rappers from other cities and countries attempt to emulate a Southern accent in their flows. Any doubters about Atlanta's global imprint can hush that fuss. 

See a full gallery of photos from One Musicfest 2016."
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[http://www.clatl.com/music/article/20832371/the-entire-dungeon-family-headlines-one-musicfest|ONE Musicfest]’s seventh year was indeed one for the books. During the morning hours of Sept. 10, leading up to the noon opening time, attendees flocked to Lakewood Amphitheater. The much anticipated headlining performance of the entire Dungeon Family — André 3000 included — lead to a sold-out, packed-out event filled with a full day of top-notch shows from a diverse group of artists.

Earlier in the day, before the Dungeon Family’s historic reunion, fans braved the 94-degree heat to take in the afternoon’s performers.

East Coast, West Coast, and Down South artists attracted people from as far away as Canada, ONE Musicfest founder Jay Carter offered during a brief backstage chat.

First-time ONE Musicfest performer Andra Day, paused after her set to take pictures and talk about her experience. “I’m a fan of so many of the people performing today,” she said.

Anderson .Paak’s soulful funk drew a crowd to the outdoor stage. And as singer Jazmine Sullivan closed out her powerful set, Gary Clark, Jr. switched guitars at least three times to deliver his blues revivalist sound. Later, Busta Rhymes kicked off the salute to old-school hip-hop with crowd pleasers “Whoo Hah (I Got You All in Check)” and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.”

On the Zeus stage, Ice Cube took fans back to the late ’80s and early ’90s with hits from NWA and his solo albums such as “Straight Outta Compton,” “Jackin’ For Beats,” and “Check Yo Self” from the Friday soundtrack — it was a good day, indeed.

Erykah Badu returned to OMF with classics “On and On” and “Tyrone.” She even shouted out regions of the metro area like Stone Mountain and “East Purnt” — that’s East Point for the uninitiated. 

When the sun went down, OMF revelers turned up at the main stage for the stars of the show. The Dungeon Family moved the crowd with a rare performances of songs from their only collective album, ''Even in Darkness''. Diehard fans sang along to “Follow the Light” and “Trans DF Express.”

André 3000 glided across the stage as though he were unaware of the heightened screams and applause at his presence. Organized Noize singer and producer, Sleepy Brown joined him on vocals for his metaphorically driven rhymes on “I Can’t Wait.”

Among the surprises of the night, Bonecrusher, T.I., and Killer Mike took the stage to perform “Never Scared.” Erykah Badu took the stage for “Liberation” from OutKast’s critically acclaimed album Aquemini. She and CeeLo Green stole the show with their strong vocals. DF closed the show with “Gangsta Shit” from Stankonia. 

After delivering so much in a one-day festival, it’s hard to imagine where ONE Musicfest can go next.

Unlike André’s social message jumpsuits of the 2014 OutKast tour, the Dungeon Family wore attire strictly to rep their city. CeeLo stood out in a Deion Sanders Falcons throwback jersey and guest Ed Lover got in on the act with a College Park T-shirt. And the timing of the DF reunion couldn’t have been better. In the same week of Donald Glover’s funny but gritty Atlanta series debuted on FX, the ATLien pride was undeniable. When the crowd jumped, they weren’t just enjoying a concert, they were celebrating over two decades of music and culture. They were honoring a city that some call a place with an identity crisis, while others recognize an influence so strong that rappers from other cities and countries attempt to emulate a Southern accent in their flows. Any doubters about Atlanta's global imprint can hush that fuss. 

__[http://www.clatl.com/music/media-gallery/20833374/photos-of-one-musicfest-2016|See a full gallery of photos from One Musicfest 2016.]__"
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ONE Musicfest’s seventh year was indeed one for the books. During the morning hours of Sept. 10, leading up to the noon opening time, attendees flocked to Lakewood Amphitheater. The much anticipated headlining performance of the entire Dungeon Family — André 3000 included — lead to a sold-out, packed-out event filled with a full day of top-notch shows from a diverse group of artists.

Earlier in the day, before the Dungeon Family’s historic reunion, fans braved the 94-degree heat to take in the afternoon’s performers.

East Coast, West Coast, and Down South artists attracted people from as far away as Canada, ONE Musicfest founder Jay Carter offered during a brief backstage chat.

First-time ONE Musicfest performer Andra Day, paused after her set to take pictures and talk about her experience. “I’m a fan of so many of the people performing today,” she said.

Anderson .Paak’s soulful funk drew a crowd to the outdoor stage. And as singer Jazmine Sullivan closed out her powerful set, Gary Clark, Jr. switched guitars at least three times to deliver his blues revivalist sound. Later, Busta Rhymes kicked off the salute to old-school hip-hop with crowd pleasers “Whoo Hah (I Got You All in Check)” and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See.”

On the Zeus stage, Ice Cube took fans back to the late ’80s and early ’90s with hits from NWA and his solo albums such as “Straight Outta Compton,” “Jackin’ For Beats,” and “Check Yo Self” from the Friday soundtrack — it was a good day, indeed.

Erykah Badu returned to OMF with classics “On and On” and “Tyrone.” She even shouted out regions of the metro area like Stone Mountain and “East Purnt” — that’s East Point for the uninitiated. 

When the sun went down, OMF revelers turned up at the main stage for the stars of the show. The Dungeon Family moved the crowd with a rare performances of songs from their only collective album, Even in Darkness. Diehard fans sang along to “Follow the Light” and “Trans DF Express.”

André 3000 glided across the stage as though he were unaware of the heightened screams and applause at his presence. Organized Noize singer and producer, Sleepy Brown joined him on vocals for his metaphorically driven rhymes on “I Can’t Wait.”

Among the surprises of the night, Bonecrusher, T.I., and Killer Mike took the stage to perform “Never Scared.” Erykah Badu took the stage for “Liberation” from OutKast’s critically acclaimed album Aquemini. She and CeeLo Green stole the show with their strong vocals. DF closed the show with “Gangsta Shit” from Stankonia. 

After delivering so much in a one-day festival, it’s hard to imagine where ONE Musicfest can go next.

Unlike André’s social message jumpsuits of the 2014 OutKast tour, the Dungeon Family wore attire strictly to rep their city. CeeLo stood out in a Deion Sanders Falcons throwback jersey and guest Ed Lover got in on the act with a College Park T-shirt. And the timing of the DF reunion couldn’t have been better. In the same week of Donald Glover’s funny but gritty Atlanta series debuted on FX, the ATLien pride was undeniable. When the crowd jumped, they weren’t just enjoying a concert, they were celebrating over two decades of music and culture. They were honoring a city that some call a place with an identity crisis, while others recognize an influence so strong that rappers from other cities and countries attempt to emulate a Southern accent in their flows. Any doubters about Atlanta's global imprint can hush that fuss. 

See a full gallery of photos from One Musicfest 2016.             20833451         http://dev.creativeloafing.com/image/2016/09/df_010.57d6f74a7d917.png                  Live review: One Musicfest "
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Article

Monday September 12, 2016 06:42 pm EDT
The Dungeon Family, Organized Noize and many more made Atlanta proud | more...
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