At a ceremony this morning, EPB dedicated new murals by 10 local artists to its 10th Street Substation wall. This year’s murals illustrate the theme “Traditions on MLK,” which honors the history, heritage and significance of downtown Chattanooga’s Martin Luther King Boulevard neighborhood.
“Thank you to the local artists who shared their talent to celebrate the spirit of a community unlike any other,” said Chattanooga Mayor Kelly. “They join the rich tradition of the MLK neighborhood. Since the EPB 10th Street Mural Project began in 2021, these and other local artists have joined the effort to create works that enhance our city and serve as an enduring reminder of this special community’s history.”
The 10th Street Murals project is driven by EPB’s mission to enhance quality of life, with the goal of engaging local artists to transform this highly visible energy infrastructure into a canvass that reflects the spirit of the MLK neighborhood.
New murals cover the northeast facing wall of the substation between Foster Street and East Martin Luther King Boulevard. Artists who completed the murals all live or work in EPB’s service territory.
- Jonathan Bidwell, “Write Traditions”
- Lexi D’Ambrosio, “The Foundation of a King-dom”
- Laura Swift Dahlke, “Faith”
- Mason Elmore, “The Nine Through Time”
- Karen Estes, “Love and Resilience”
- Jerome Foster, “Time to Shine on the Big Nine”
- Jody Harris, “Seismic Traditions”
- Ann Jackson, “Children are the Future”
- Caitlin Maupin, “Only Light Can Do That”
- Olivia Reckert, “Garden on Light”
Jerome Foster’s mural hearkens back to MLK Boulevard’s origins as 9th Street, when it was referred to as the “Big 9.” Adorning his mural is a large “9” that appears to be encrusted with diamonds to represent the community’s value as a jewel for black entrepreneurs.
“Historically the area was an entrepreneur spot for African Americans,” Foster said. “This was the area that Black musicians and singers were allowed to express their talents. Ninth Street was the Harlem of Tennessee at one point.”
The project continues with the support of several community partners, including ArtsBuild, Association of Visual Arts (AVA), Bessie Smith Cultural Center, City of Chattanooga’s Public Art Chattanooga, Chatt Foundation, MLK Neighborhood Association, Memo’s Grill, RISE Chattanooga, River City Company, Stove Works, Hunter Art Museum, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
“The influence of the MLK neighborhood has deep cultural impacts across our community, from important civil rights landmarks to treasured musical performers,” said ArtsBuild President James McKissic. “Thank you to EPB for continuing to share space to preserve this diverse history.”
Several community organizations participated in this year’s application and selection process, which followed an anonymized judging process to select works based on their submission’s artistic value, community reflection and relevance to the theme. Participating organizations included ArtsBuild, Association of Visual Arts (AVA), Bessie Smith Cultural Center, City of Chattanooga’s Public Art Chattanooga, Chatt Foundation, MLK Neighborhood Association, Memo’s Grill, River City Company, Stove Works, Hunter Art Museum, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
“Murals on EPB’s 10th Street Substation truly represent a community-based effort,” said EPB President & CEO David Wade. “In addition to selecting only artists from our service territory, more than a dozen local organizations shared their time and expertise to ensure work authentically represents the MLK neighborhood.”
This year’s dedication completes the third side of the 10th Street Substation. EPB will invite submissions for public murals for the fourth and final side of the substation in late 2023.