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South End mural promotes diversity, inclusion

February 15, 2019

CHARLOTTE – A new mural in the South End neighborhood is spreading a powerful message and getting a lot of “likes,” too.

Called the Confetti Hearts Wall, the 40-foot mural is a collection of confetti-inspired colorful hearts with the words “be kind,” “do good” and “love others” written on three of the hearts. You can find it near 1920 Camden Road – in the walkway between Jeni’s Ice Cream and Superica. 

The mural was painted by Evelyn Henson, a Charlotte-based artist whose colorful paintings and designs have caught the attention of large brands like Marshalls, HomeGoods and Anthropologie. She also wholesales her products to approximately 100 stores nationwide and has a card deal with Hallmark.

Last year, Henson began noticing the popularity of “Instagram walls” on social media and became fascinated with public art. She started thinking about what she would paint if she had a wall to work with and jotted down a few ideas on her blog. A few months later, the marketing team for Asana Partners, a real estate investment company in Charlotte, saw the post and reached out with a mural opportunity on one of their buildings.

The confetti design was inspired by Henson’s love for the saying, “Throw kindness like confetti.” Henson believes kindness should be given out freely and happily, and people should be excited to give it, just like they would confetti.

“It’s like a more fun way to say, ‘You get more of what you give,’” she said. “Giving is fun and kindness is something that should be celebrated.” 

Asana Partners loved the idea and gave Henson the green light to start painting, but it wasn’t that simple. She was used to painting on small paper in the privacy of her own home, so a 40-foot mural was a little out of her comfort zone.

“It was a leap to do something so large scale with materials I don’t typically work with in a public space where people are walking by,” Henson said.

After having someone pressure wash the wall, fill in a few cracks and prime the surface, Henson gridded out the wall into increments with painters tape that corresponded with her sketch design. From there, she used chalk to outline a heart stencil she cut out of paper and filled in each heart with color. 

But it wasn’t easy as it sounds, Henson assured. Painting in the middle of winter was difficult, and weather was a major factor.

“It rained for a few days and it was like 40 degrees and that alley doesn’t get any sunlight, so I was freezing,” she said, adding that one day it was so cold she went to a nearby bathroom and sat under the hand dryers.

It took Henson a week to complete the mural from start to finish. In the end, she said her favorite part is the different colors and the message it sends, especially in today’s social and political climate.

“It represents that you need more than one color in the world in order to create a sense of community and goodness. You need every color to make a rainbow,” Henson said. “It’s important for us to respect all the colors around us and the neighbors beside us because when we’re not respectful of the neighbors around us, the world kind of becomes a more chaotic place, and more one-colored.”

Henson hopes the Confetti Hearts Wall inspires more public art opportunities in Charlotte. She believes viewing public art improves mental and emotional health, distracts from depression and reduces stress. The art itself can also elevate the surrounding businesses and positively impact the economy as a tourist attraction. 

There have been over 1,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag #confettiheartswall since Henson finished the mural. She said those shares are a reflection of how many people are impacted, moved and inspired by public art. They also show how many people are walking by that area for business and how Charlotte fashion brands are using it as a backdrop in photo shoots.

“People want to go to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Obviously, this mural isn’t the Golden Gate Bridge, but if you create enough of them, it drives people to a city as a whole,” Henson said.

Marissa Louer and Jackie Zawislak, of Charlotte, saw the Confetti Hearts Wall on Instagram and decided to stop by on their walk around South End on Feb. 2.

“It’s really cute to watch people take pictures,” Zawislack said. “There’s a couple with a puppy, a family with their kids and over there, that couple’s announcing a new baby. Charlotte’s growing and has so many different people from all over, but this mural is bringing those people together to all enjoy the same thing.”

Louer  and Zawislack liked all the different colors in the mural and thought it was a good representation of the different races, backgrounds and ethnicities not just in Charlotte, but also around the country and world.

“It’s kind of a beautiful way to look at diversity,” Zawislack said.

“Just because everyone is different, doesn’t mean we can’t all come together to create a beautiful world, just like a beautiful piece of art,” Louer added.

Get social

You can help promote public art by posting a photo of yourself at the mural on Instagram with the #confettiheartswall hashtag. Follow Evelyn Henson’s Instagram account @evelyn_henson to see more of her artwork. You can also purchase prints, greeting cards, stationary and other personalized works on her website: www.evelynhenson.com.

Source: The Charlotte Weekly, Karie Simmons

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