Living Walls mural sparks debate

Hyuro’s series of nudes in south Atlanta gets the neighborhood talking


For all of the ogling of lady parts we do and the fury with which we debate ownership and control of said parts, many people sure do feel uncomfortable when confronted with actual female anatomy. Case in point: Hyuro’s recently completed Living Walls mural at the corner of McDonough Boulevard and Sawtell Avenue near the Lakewood Park/Chosewood Park neighborhoods. The mural covers a wall of a former GM plant, now vacant, residing near a church, a mosque and the federal penitentiary. It depicts a frame-by-frame of a nude woman dressing in a black jumpsuit and then disrobing again. The jumpsuit transforms into the body of a wolf and walks off. At about the 1 minute mark, the video below gives a nice time-lapse view of the mural.

Day 9 - Living Walls 2012 from Living Walls: The City Speaks on Vimeo.

Unsurprisingly, a wall full of naked ladies near a church and a mosque has sparked debate among residents on the local neighborhood listserv over the past week. Some find the content too provocative to expose their children to it and are rerouting everyday drives that pass by the mural. Some believe it only contributes to the hypersexualization of women in a city renowned for its abundance of strip clubs.

as much as I like that the artist wanted to paint a mural to beautify the city, I do not like the choice of picture. You have to take it in context...we have strip clubs everywhere, prostitutes, and men that are sex addicts in this neighborhood (and throughout Atlanta) and now we have to have a HUGE mural of like 6 different naked women on one of our main corners? I know it has meaning behind it and is done in a “tasteful” way but it still is too much for me and many people aren’t going to look for the meaning behind it (shedding the animal within the artist told me) they will just see T & A.

Others are enamored with the artwork and pleased with its addition to the neighborhood.

I think it’s beautiful and tasteful and artistic and wonderful. In the year that I’ve lived here, it’s probably the first and only good tho that’s happened in this neighborhood.

But the most interesting part about this debate may be how civil it appears to be. The conversation isn’t laced with vitriol and insults, and no one seems to be calling for the mural’s removal. Instead, a discussion of the nudes as art in the context of the neighborhood is emerging on the listserv and even involves the perspectives of the artist and her assistant. Despite the fact that the debate seems to be healthy and isn’t currently condemning the work, I wouldn’t expect the mural to last untouched on that corner for long.