Exploring street art in Tech’s own backyard

Photo by Casey Gomez

Art Rudick was not always into street art. It was not until a trip to New York City in 2016, where the now retired engineer found himself on a walking tour of street art in the Bushwick neighborhood, that Rudick developed a taste for the form. During this trip, Rudick’s niece convinced him to create an Instagram account.

Upon returning to Atlanta, Rudick was eager to find murals for his Instagram posts; however, he found that navigating Atlanta’s street art was challenging, as existing websites provided minimal information. This is what jump-started his idea for the Atlanta Street Art Map, a website that makes navigating street art easier. 

The Atlanta Street Art Map can be accessed online at streetartmap.org. The primary focus of the map is on murals. The website features six self-guided walking tours: Atlanta Beltline (Eastside Trail), Cabbagetown/Reynoldstown (along Wylie St. and Tennelle St.), Edgewood Ave. (Old Fourth Ward, Sweet Auburn and Downtown), Little Five Points (along Euclid Ave. and Moreland Ave.) and Pittsburgh Neighborhood (The Met complex off of Metropolitan Parkway). 

These tours are just down the road from Tech and are the perfect way for students to take some time away from studying to appreciate local Atlanta artwork. Many of it is in walking distance from Tech’s campus. 

Every mural within each of these locations has its own unique message. Some are “whimsical and fun,” Rudick explained, such as his favorite piece, the Tom and Jerry mural by Jerkface on the Five Points Tour. Others, Rudick explained, are “like the work of Muhammad Yungai or Fabian Williams which have a very strong civil rights message.” Muhammad Yungai, in fact, is a part of a nonprofit program, “Off the Wall,” which is sponsored by Wonderroot. “Off the Wall,” which is concerned with spreading civil rights messages through murals, commissioned several artists to put up 20 murals for the 2019 Super Bowl. 

 Not all Atlanta murals are commissioned pieces, however. On the one hand, there exist large commissioned pieces which are backed by corporate sponsors, while on the other hand, in certain locations, anyone can just show up and spray away. 

“You have to learn the etiquette,” Rudick explained. “In places like the Krog Street Tunnel, some graffiti walls in obscure locations, or underneath the Freedom Parkway Bridge, you just show up with your spray paint…and if you spray over somebody else’s stuff that’s just kind of what happens.” This, again, is just one end of the spectrum. A large commissioned piece, of course, requires different etiquette; they should not be tampered with. 

It is understood that Atlanta Street art is constantly changing and so is the Atlanta Street Art Map, which sets it apart from any other existing tools. Rudick has met a lot of the artists responsible for creating these works of art. 

“I’ll meet with them through the Street Art Map when they have murals going up and I am working with them to find out where they are… or to get their biographies onto the website,” he said. 

The Atlanta Street Art Map bridged the gap between observers and art as well as between observers, artists and their respective messages. Artwork featured on the map is always changing and is free entertainment for students.