This mural recognizes the legacy of Rich’s Department Store, which for many years was the cornerstone of Atlanta’s downtown and is now one part of the Atlanta Federal Center.
The mural tells the story of two dreams that in a strange twist of history became intertwined here. On the one hand, an immigrant family comes to Atlanta to establish a business and in the process makes a commitment to the well-being of the community. And on the other hand, almost a hundred years later, that same family department store becomes the site for the famous lunch counter sit-in led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to protest the prevailing policy of segregation.
To dramatize the historical legacy I investigated photographic imagery within historical archives of the civil rights period in Atlanta and the social history of Rich’s Department store. The mosaic tile mural extends floor to ceiling. It begins on a 30’ wall and wraps around that corridor wall right up the stairs to the second floor. Rather than looking like pictures mounted on a wall, the images become the wall in a bold scale.
I have also integrated into the wall a series of larger porcelain enamel ‘tiles’ each measuring 8 x 10 inches that contain a photographic image printed on its face that pertains to the civil rights issue and to the history of Rich’s department store. As one approaches the wall these images are visible at close range. There are actually two viewing distances, one from a long perspective to view the mosaic, and one close-up to view the inset photographs.