Atlanta Clockwork

Metropolitan Series, No. 89

  • Size: 14″ x 14″ x 1.5″
  • Substrate: Canvas
  • Medium: Oil pen on Acrylic

While I had lived in both Athens and Savannah, Georgia. I spent most of my time on the outskirts of Atlanta. I was confused for most of my time in that town, as I was incredibly odd and often felt misunderstood. It wasn’t until middle school, in where my sisters obtained their driver’s licenses, that I would truly the see a place where I belonged.

One of my first vivid adventures into the city was with my sister and her friends traveling down 75 south to Little 5 Points for a weekday hang out. Here I dizzily wandered around at 13 years old around this vibrant district of head shops and punk rock stores, all the while floating through the soft breeze of Nag Champa that effortlessly wafted into the air. All the punk rockers and hippies were walking around the place, and I was in awe and in love with everyone and everything. I remember thinking, “I want to be these people. I want to live around these people”, and for one of the first times in my life I felt like I belonged.

Later on that night I was sitting near my bay window out the burbs and playing music in my walkman while I stared out dramatically (as I often did and do) and thought about what I had seen that day. My sister walked in and said … “Hey see that light thats glowing over the hill outside your window at the other cul-de-sac? Thats Atlanta.”

I had noticed that glow for years but never knew what it was about. I hadn’t even thought about it or asked why it existed, but from then on I stared almost every night at those lights and wondered what was going on in that glow. Years later, the minute I was able to drive, I ended up in Little 5 Points out in the city, and immersed myself in the place that I loved so much. I would end up later going to high school out there, and MARTA became my main source of transportation. I’d ride Lenox to the center of the city in 5 Points and then catch another train eastbound to Inman Park.

When I had the opportunity to move out of Atlanta, I took it without hesitation. Atlanta was like a mother to me, raising me slowly to understand how to navigate through a densely populated area… and like most children who want to explore the world… I had to leave her. I soon left to Philadelphia and from that point on I never looked back.

I sometimes think over the years about what it would have been like if I had never left Atlanta. Would I have been an artist? Would I be in love? Would I be jaded that I never took the opportunity to leave, or would I have been eventually grateful that I never left because of some opportunity that wouldn’t have unearthed itself anywhere else? Regardless of these thoughts, I’m grateful for all the accidents, troubling times, and lack of security for my decision, as it has brought me to this moment in my life now.

So in tribute to the metropolitan series, it seemed fitting to do a portrait of the metropolitan mother that raised me. This piece is called “Atlanta Clockwork”, as the structure reminds me of a clock. 285 is the circumference highway that acts as the shape of a clock, all the while the North/South and “East/West” highways act as minute hands to tell the time of the city. On the outskirts are geographically accurate areas of the burbs, while inside the face encase buildings that represent the districts and streets of Atlanta. The stripes that cross through Mickey’s face represent the color of the transit system MARTA, and in the features contain more districts of the city.

Ever since I created this piece, I have flown back to the city that raised me to remember what is was like to live both inside and outside the perimeter that I grew up in. I thank the people in this city who helped raise, teach, and love me…


….and to Atlanta, my first metropolitan mother, I love you and thank you for everything.


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