MEMPHIS, Tenn — Culture, talent, community are a few of the words that headline the new art project on the north side of the coliseum. The landmark opened in 1963 and hasn’t been used since the early 2000’s.
“I do understand that it’s a really important landmark within the city and I really want to see it continue to hold that type of importance,” said Crosstown High School senior Nisa Williams.
Williams painted the project with her dad, Theo James, from May to August of this year. For James, seeing his daughter channel her ideas into artwork as he did at her age are proud moments.
“The most flattering thing in the world is I think for any parent is to see pieces of yourself in your kids,” said the father.
James began airbrushing t-shirts at 17 and sold them at the fairgrounds and said the area has been forgotten except for sporting events. The space was used for everything from concerts to graduations, and was where Elvis Presley and the Beatles performed.
"Instead of getting rid of this thing, let's turn it into something that benefits the whole community," said James.
James and Williams were commissioned by the Coliseum Coalition. Co-founder Marvin Stockwell was impressed with a mural Williams painted at school.
“With our fairgrounds turning into Liberty Park there's construction on the site,” said Stockwell. “We think it's an inevitable question to say what's the coliseum going to become."
Another message behind the paint is justice. The word is painted on one of the panels. Williams believes it will spark a conversation.
“I think it definitely will,” she said. “That’s kind of the reason we wanted to put that lettering there. Because we want people to look at it and be like of what was that and go on google or something and look up who justice baker motley is.”
Williams explained the mural serves as a flashback or timeline.
“A lot of the imagery you see in all 6 of the murals it’s essentially these chronicles of how this place was culturally significant in the past and how they can still be culturally significant in the present.”
Williams plans to study art in college.