CANTON — With a submitted rendering of a mural representing the history and diversity of Cherokee County, Shanna Coulter, a fine art instructor at Cherokee High School, was selected as the featured artist to complete a three-foot-high and 540-foot-long mural on Railroad Street.
The City of Canton and the Downtown Canton Main Street’s Public Art Steering Committee had a call for artists for the project early in 2020, and Coulter’s design stood out among the many that presented.
“We envisioned a parade of ‘legs’ through history marching toward the present moment,” shared Coulter, who plans to complete the painting with a team of artists. “The mural would begin with the native Americans who were here when the county first began to attract settlers, through the ‘Gold Rush’, the ‘poultry capital of the world’, the Great Fire, Denim Day, the Civil Rights Movement and the integration of schools, to the colorful fashion of the mid-to-late 1900s.
“We want to use as many historical photographs for reference as we can get our hands on,” she continued. “As the timeline of Cherokee County reaches the 2000s, we would like to recruit living representatives to photograph for the final decades of the mural. Additionally, the blue river from the Canton logo would weave through connecting everyone, and the mural would end with the Canton logo.”
The Public Arts team that helped with the selection of the Railroad Street mural project’s artist and design included Councilor Brooke Schmidt, Councilor Will Carlan, Councilor Sandy McGrew, Jamie Foreman, owner of Menagerie on Main, Penn Hodge, developer at The Mill on Etowah and Velinda Hardy, downtown development manager.
Artists were asked to consider connectivity, community, and blending the historic with the contemporary when creating designs.
“Shanna’s design is essentially a super creative take on a timeline,” said Schmidt. “She plans to meet with Stefanie Joyner at the History Cherokee to make sure clothing is correct and to get other ideas for Canton-specific items to include.”
Coulter and her team of artists and fellow art teachers Shannah Dean, Lori Thompson, Chris Lambert, MaryJo Mulvey, Leslie Babcock, Susan Jones, and Morgan Boswell, will begin working on the mural starting in January, weather-permitting, and will complete the project by June.
“2020 challenged most everyone,” said Coulter. “In the chaos and unrest of this past year, we had a desire to do something that makes sense to us as artists. Working on this mural gives us an opportunity to be our authentic selves and come together to create something meaningful in our community. It is going to be for us as much as it will be for the community. Art heals. We teach that, so we are doing that. We are each very grateful for this opportunity.”
Funding for the mural project will be provided by the Canton Main Street Board and a grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts. The City of Canton will unveil the mural with a ribbon cutting and reception. More details to follow in the coming months.