SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) alumni are putting their artistic touches on downtown Savannah.
The vinyl-on-glass pieces are featured on the outside of the Gutstein Gallery on Broughton Street in Savannah and on a SCAD building in Atlanta.
Ayers and Penny say their project speaks to the injustice in the world, while also contemplating what it looks like when two people who create different work come together to contribute to something larger than themselves.
“I felt like this is a perfect project for the times,” Ayers said. “My takeaway from this is it is art, but it’s bigger than just the art. It’s the bigger picture. It’s the message.”
Ayers limits his medium to high-contrast black and white paint, so the viewer can focus solely on the work’s content, while Penny’s work is more colorful. Penny created the backdrops for the murals while Ayer focused on the lettering.
He says he’s proud of his collaboration with Penny’s style to create a new display that can help continue the conversation.
“All people in general, but specifically that 12-year-old, 13-year-old Black kid driving through Atlanta on the way to practice or driving through Savannah and be like, ‘that’s me up there,’” Ayer said.
The artists say their collaboration was a time of listening, editing, learning and creating with each other.
Ayers says he’s honored to have his work displayed on the exterior of Gutstein Gallery because of its historical significance.
It was the location where African-American students Carolyn Quilloin Coleman, Joan Tyson Hall, and Ernest Robinson were arrested for sitting in the store’s whites-only restaurant on March 16, 1960.
Their arrests sparked a series of boycotts and voter registration drives that eventually led to the desegregation of all facilities in Savannah in October 1963, eight months before the Civil Rights Act.
In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. stated that Savannah was the most desegregated city south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
“Someone who looks like me is on the building. You know what I mean? My work is on the building. And I was just like, that’s a full circle,” Ayer said.
“This project will stand for it down the road. We’re choosing — my institution, myself, the artists, everyone involved — are choosing to be on the right side of history,” he added.