Community Out Of Chaos

Notes by Artist of the Mural in the Department of Sociology Conference Room Clement Hall

As I created my design, I wanted to portray the idea of chaos to community in Memphis. As a viewer enters the space of the conference room, I want to draw their eye to the white image of the monumental MLK assassination. This was a pivotal event in the history of Memphis. It marks a time of a community in chaos. However, it is almost disguised by the blue sky surrounding it. The outstretched arms of the pointing figures draw the viewer’s gaze across the image until the expectant mother is in view. A faint overlaying of the Memphis school zones brings the issues of education into the conversation. She speaks to the present but is concerned for the future. Behind her is a dense entanglement of crossing wires and cords of color. These lines of communication represent the city (urban). The lines propel forward, toward the translucent figures. These people could represent anyone. They bring questions to mind. Who are they? Although they are grouped together, are they in conflict? These people could represent anyone. The veins on the face of the first figure speak to the medical history of Memphis. Is this man holding his head up with pride or is he still searching for a cure? In the background, the Levitt Shell is represented during its time of abandonment but this "storm" has now passed because of the restoration community brings. The cords continue to wind around the figures and come together to create a tree. The tree represents a community. This brings to mind the people who have come together to preserve Overton Park, build the Green Line, etc. The branches become the hands that work together. This area of the design is much more positive than the first image of the assassination. However, the stormy skies create a sense of tension. You will also notice the tracks behind the tree. These represent barriers in society, specifically in Memphis.

I feel that my design is full of life and speaks to the vibrant culture of Memphis. The bands of color are like waves of the sounds of Beale Street. Throughout the design, I wanted to represent movement and tension. In every community tension exists. Tension can be the beginning of a positive change or can have a negative outcome. Regardless, that is the nature of community.

-Charli Byrd Ardrey