BIRMINGHAM, AL (October 17, 2023) – Join Main Street Inc. for a little PDA, a Public Display of Art, to celebrate the unveiling of the augmented-reality enabled STEEL MAGNOLIAS Mural—depicting historic and transformational Alabama women who raised the bar, exemplifying extraordinary grace and strength in the face of adversity.
Free to the community, the event takes place on Thursday, November 9, 2023, from 12 noon – 2 p.m. CST at the corner of 19th Street North and 10th Avenue. The mural spans 260 feet in width and 20 feet in height on the building occupied by Main Street, Inc. – located across the street from the BJCC. The street in front of the mural will be blocked off during the official event hours of 12 noon to 2 pm so viewers can safely stand on the sidewalk across the street to view the art and immerse themselves in the augmented-reality experience. Parking is available in and around the BJCC.
A collaborative effort of local artist Meghan McCollum from Blank Space Bham, LLC., and a talented team of artists including Dewon Moton and Mary Grace Tracy, the augmented reality-enabled mural, one of the first of its kind in Alabama, features renowned To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee, civil rights icons Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks, and champion for the blind, Helen Keller.
“What may give you pause, however, is the woman at the center of it all…and that is with complete intention. Anchoring this work (at center) is a portrait of a nameless face meant to represent the “everyday” woman– the woman that perhaps, doesn’t even recognize her strength under pressure, but is beautifully centered within the shared history of the great women of our state.” said McCollum, the mural’s creator. “Her place in the mural, along with the gentle gesture of her hand and the concentric arches that ripple out from her like abstracted water rings speak to the interconnectedness of this shared identity of what it means to be a Steel Magnolia and the growing impact these women have had all around them. She serves as a reminder that you too can change the world.”
The Steel Magnolias mural offers an interactive, educational, and entertaining augmented reality experience, brought to life as viewers use their mobile devices to engage with the art, witnessing Southern flowers blossom and butterflies gracefully taking flight from the building, all while the stories of these four historic figures unfold. Additionally, the mural gives a nod to our state’s rich cultural heritage and incredible talent of the Gee’s Bend Quilters, through its bold bands of color, a signature of the patterns within their medium.
“Steel Magnolias represents a vision of transformational women from across Alabama–the individual stories of grace, strength, and resolve in the face of adversity across the lives and work of the women featured in this mural make each of them, to me, a true embodiment of the idiom”, says McCollum. “Scattered across the mural are magnolias, and our state flower the camellia. These quintessential “Southern” blooms are a literal representation of the mural’s namesake, but they also serve as another abstract representation of the beauty in which these featured women led. Beyond their symbolic meaning to our historical figures, however, the floral blooms are a motif I commonly utilize in my work, allowing me, in my own way, to feel tied to the incredible stories of these special folks.”
Commissioned by Main Street Inc. and the owners of the DCI Building, the permanent public art incorporates augmented reality (AR) technology. Included in its final form during the unveiling event, the AR experience will populate famous quotes, detailed biographies, and media that illustrate the historic contributions of the women depicted on the mural.
Spearheaded by a team of volunteers, The Main Street Mural Committee selected Blank Space Bham, working in tandem with Moton and Tracy, from a pool of international and acclaimed artists, to depict an image meant to ‘bridge communities and people’. “Meghan’s vision really captured our interest in honoring the changemakers of our state — notably women whose pivotal role in history will be celebrated by educating and inspiring new generations through this public art installation,” a Committee spokesperson said.
The Steel Magnolias mural stands as a testament to the transformative power of art and its ability to honor the legacy of four remarkable women who didn’t shout out— but rather let their actions be their voice and a model for all women. We invite you to become immersed in the art, and experience the resilience, beauty, and significance of these extraordinary women. Join us on November 9th as we celebrate this awe-inspiring mural, reaffirming their lasting impact on our community and the world.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Main Street, Inc.
About Blank Space, Bham, LLC
Blank Space Bham, LLC invites you to join in their mission to elevate art’s role in sparking dialogue and empowering communities through creative placemaking. As an artist and urbanist, Meghan McCollum, the driving force behind Blank Space Bham, passionately champions the transformative power of art in building strong and thriving communities. With a deep commitment to intentional placemaking, Meghan, believes that community mural art should be a reflection of its people, amplifying their voices and fostering connection.
With over a decade of experience in the field and six years as a small business owner, Meghan not only designs and paints captivating large-scale murals but also offers consultation and project management services through Blank Space Bham. Their goal is to inspire others to utilize mural art in their own unique way, both in Birmingham and beyond. As an advocate for utilizing art to create meaningful change, Meghan invites you to join them in their journey towards empowering communities through the power of art.
Visit Blank Space to see more.
About Main Street, Inc.
Main Street, Inc. is a trusted check provider to more than 2,000 community financial institutions nationwide, providing affordable, simple, and efficient checking programs to enhance account holder relationships. As an exclusive check partner to community banks and credit unions, the project of Steel Magnolias is a direct reflection of Main Street’s traditional value system and passion for community impact.
Visit mainstreetinc.com for more information.