by Katie Teems, NHT AmeriCorps Member
Have you seen the newly-painted squares on the side of the building between Spruce Street and Ash Alley? The artist behind this piece, Nellie Rose Davis, took some time to sit down with me to discuss her work.
"I really love the location of [the building] because Spruce Street hasn't yet been spruced up, you know," she said.
Nellie says that this is her first time painting the outside of a building. As a person who normally works with dye and textiles on a smaller scale, painting a building is a different beast. First off, the "canvas" is so big. Also, Nellie noted that the paints don't layer and mix like her dyes. Nevertheless, she says there will be "a lot of colors" on the building.
Nellie started the first week of July. Since then, neither the rain nor the heat have been conducive to painting outside, but Nellie is slowly but surely making progress on the squares. Nellie is open to anyone who wants to help further this project along.
Like with her textiles, the process is meditative. She mostly paints alone in the evenings before the sun has completely set, and she listens to music or podcasts while she paints. The repetition of painting the squares adds to this meditative quality.
Nellie says her favorite part of the process is slowly seeing her painting come to life. "I didn't know it would look cool before it was done," she said. The building is "an identifier that there's something weird brewing here," and it's a prime spot for both locals and people passing through, she said.
Nellie is "really grateful" to the Public Art grant generated by New Historic Thomas, Woodlands Development Group, the Tucker County Cultural District Authority, and ArtSpring. Nellie says without funding from these groups, she would not have been able to do this public art project.
Nellie will continue working on this piece in the evening. If you're driving by Ash Alley or Spruce Street, please be mindful of that fact and make sure to slow down so as not to startle Nellie while she's painting.