DOTHAN, Alabama – July 3, 2018 – The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA), in partnership with the City of Dothan, is pleased to announce it has selected mural artist Cosby Hayes to serve as an artist-in-residence in Dothan from June 1 through August 31 to gather community input for the City’s Highway 84 East corridor improvement project. The Tallahassee, Florida-based artist will be tasked with finding creative ways to engage with citizens living in neighborhoods that border the stretch of Highway 84 East that includes the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Southeast Alabama Medical Center, and downtown Dothan, with the purpose of getting to know them better, understanding their transportation needs, and giving them a voice in the corridor project.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the City of Dothan on this initiative. This is a critical example of how art and artists can work across industries to build diverse and equitable communities with civic participation and pride at its core,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, Director and Curator of Wiregrass Museum of Art.
The primary objective of the Highway 84 East project is to provide the City of Dothan with a corridor development plan that reflects the needs and wants of local citizens and businesses toward the realization of a livable, vibrant and financially sustainable urban corridor. Transportation for America | Smart Growth America, the organization that awarded the City funding for the project last summer through its creative-placemaking Cultural Corridor Consortium program, tasks recipients of their grants with using arts and culture as part of the planning and implementation of the projects they undertake. Cosby Hayes was chosen by WMA, the City of Dothan, and a committee of local community leaders for this project because of his extensive experience as a community organizer and activist, working with several organizations to create public art with the input of local citizens throughout Tallahassee and in other locations in Florida.
“As an artist operating in the public sphere, I believe it is imperative that community activism and organizing play an integral part in the planning and implementation of my art. I have used my passion for art to connect with students in areas of my city that are systemically under-represented, in an attempt to both empower and invigorate a sense of pride and ownership for their neighborhoods, and the city as a whole,” said Mr. Hayes.
Hayes is excited to get to know the citizens living along the Highway 84 corridor in Dothan, in an effort to make their voices and opinions heard as the City moves forward with its project planning.
“My hope is to continue utilizing my art to empower people and strengthen the community as a whole. Great stories can be discovered and championed through the artistic process, giving a voice and an outlet to those who otherwise might not have been heard,” said Hayes.
To document the activities of the summer residency, Mike Morris, a videographer and founder of Visual Tellers LLC, will shadow Hayes as he holds information-gathering events in the community.
“At Visual Tellers we are elated to be a part of the WMA-City of Dothan summer residency project. We are constantly seeking creative ways to contribute to our community, and are grateful to be included in such an important project to our area,” said Morris.
During his time as artist-in-residence, Hayes will live near downtown and will have a chance to witness firsthand the particular challenges facing residents of low-income neighborhoods along the north and south sides of the Highway 84 East corridor. Artist housing for WMA’s artist-in-residence program will be provided by Econo Lodge of Dothan and Tolleson Construction.
WMA’s artist-in-residence program is made possible by a grant from Transportation for America | Smart Growth America, in conjunction with the City of Dothan’s Highway 84 East Corridor Project.