Changing neighborhoods, one spray can at a time

Mónica Alexander grew up in Houston as a lover of all things art. This love led her to Savannah College of Art and Design. After graduation in 2013, Alexander moved to Atlanta where she currently resides and calls home. She got her foot in the door with her first mural at Phoenix Fest in 2014, afterward being recruited to do a large art piece on Hodgepodge coffee shops outer wall in 2016 and Forward Warrior this past August. Alexander is just one of dozens of local artists who have come together to flip Atlanta’s dreary neighborhoods and turn them into places of vibrant colors and thoughtful murals.

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While sitting on a bench on a brisk November morning in front of her Forward Warrior piece. Asked what inspires her and how she incorporates her inspiration into her art, cars turned the corner from Carroll Street and a little French Bull Dog and its owner came trotting up to a tree that stood no more than ten feet in front of us as Alexander says “Anime, modern illustration, art museums, and the political climate– we want to be creating work but still be creating work with a purpose.”

“Forward warrior is a phrase that an old roommate and I used to encourage one another with when times were tough,” says Peter Ferrari, founder, and curator of Forward Warrior and Facet Gallery. This phrase sparked an annual summer arts event that began in 2011. Partnered alongside Cabbagetown Initiative non-profit this event has street artists, graphic designers, social justice activists, and visual poets coming together to create murals on the half-mile stretch of wall beginning on Wylie Street, going towards Carroll Street, on to Pearl Street and ending right in the gateway of Krog Street Tunnel. This event takes place over a single weekend during the summer season, giving artists only 48 hours to complete these massive works of art.

Niki Zarrabi another muralist “ Mural work is very labor intensive and physically demanding, especially in the heat of Georgia’s summer so I can see there being an element of being “warriors.” Zarrabi has two unique styles that she is known for, the first being her abstract patterning and the second being her “melting” flowers. “For Forward Warrior, I wanted to try the flowers. It was my first mural based off my Botanicals series but it became a huge hit, so I have been asked since to repeat the same concept for other projects” says Zarrabi.

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Artist Niki Zarrabi’s mural based off of her series, Botanicals 

“The best part is the creative atmosphere of working alongside so many other creatives and inspiring artists. The crowd of friends, family and friendly Cabbagetown neighbors also is an amazing aspect,” says Zarrabi.

Whether they’re pushing forward through hard times, creating thought-provoking art or being a warrior through Georgia’s hot summers, this annual arts event will keep people coming back year after year to gaze upon the new, and old, murals along Wylie Street.

Check out some more work from the artists featured in this blog post below!

Mónica Alexander–  Website | Instagram @itsmmmonica

Niki Zarrabi– Website | Instagram @nikizarrabi

Forward Warrior– Instagram @forwardwarrior

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