Lisa P. Flint owns a small bungalow in the Highland Park neighborhood of Chattanooga.
A proponent of art and color, Flint recently decided a drabby gray portion of her home needed some color.
As a birthday present to herself, she decided to commission Mary Margaret LaVoie, an illustrator and co-founder of PPRWRK, to create a large-scale, echinacea-themed mural on the exterior walls.
Flint had seen PPRWRK art throughout the city and decided to reach out.
"I told her, 'I don’t really care what you do, but I do want flowers,'" she said. "... I gave her some free reign, but I wanted echinacea because of their healing powers."
LaVoie offered about 25 designs for Flint to pore over, and they came to an agreement. After the installation, Flint titled the piece "New Song" after a Howard Jones song.
"Like the piece, it is a sweet little song that speaks to seeing the world in a new way and thinking for yourself," Flint said
LaVoie, along with her business partner, David Ruiz, started PPRWRK in order to foster their art form. The company recently constructed a mural on M.L. King Boulevard to honor the late Cynthia Joyner. LaVoie, specifically, will have her illustrations featured on city bus stops soon.
In addition, LaVoie has created items other than the wheat paste art around town. One example is "Fidget Fish," a marble maze for keeping your hands busy, which she sells at Green Door Trading Co. All proceeds benefit the Chattanooga Autism Center.
LaVoie said she was excited to be commissioned for the project.
"Lisa just asked me for something bright and happy," LaVoie said. "I’ve had a pretty wide range of requests for different projects, but I really love it when people give me a hint. I just love the act of illustrating."
The installation took hours because of the laborious hand-painting LaVoie did during the project.
"This project took a while because I had to go around electrical outlets," she said. "It also had several layers."
Flint said she was thrilled with the finished product.
"I love it," she said. "We’ve already had reactions from folks. Lost of people are slowing down and checking it out. To do something inside pleases me, but to do something outside pleases everyone. I wanted people to be inspired, have a smile on their face, spreading joy …"
The most important factor regarding the project was to increase awareness and support for local artists.
"There are so many artists that live in our neighborhood," Flint said. "I do think it’s important, and working with her was just so amazing. She’s so kind. I appreciate the vibrancy these artists bring to the community."
LaVoie, a consummate traveler, agrees.
"We just want to keep on encouraging the revitalization of art though Chattanooga," she said. "I travel to other places, and what people know about Chattanooga is the art movement."
More photos of the project can be found here.
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