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MARTA recruits WonderRoot, Fahamu Pecou for En Route program

August 4,2015

From http://clatl.com

WonderRoot, in partnership with MARTA and the TransFormation Alliance, recently announced the launch of the En Route program with a goal to revitalized select MARTA stations and their surroundings with public art. The stations selected include King Memorial, Oakland City, Hamilton E. Holmes, and a yet-to-be-announced station.

The newly formed TransFormation Alliance is looking to provide a platform through this public art project for community residents to engage in their neighborhoods, create access to transit, and bring economic prosperity to the area.

En Route's goal is to make these stations more approachable to people outside the community, but also encourage bonding among riders living nearby. "One of the reasons I'm excited about this project is that artists and public art can have — it doesn't always — but it can have a transformational impact in the communities that it lives," WonderRoot Executive Director Chris Appleton says.

After receiving a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, WonderRoot began its search for an artist who could address the issues of mobility and access around the selected MARTA stations. WonderRoot chose local artist Fahamu Pecou, whose work focuses on black masculinity and identity. Pecou is currently a Ph.D. student at Emory University and his works have appeared in collections at the High Museum of Art, Smithsonian National Museum, and abroad.

"We went over a handful of artists in Atlanta at WonderRoot whose work we thought could speak to some of the key issues that we were interested in addressing through this work," Appleton says. "We really felt that Fahamu was the best fit for the project. The subject matter that Fahamu has addressed in his work historically is a great intersection with WonderRoot, art, and social change."

After MARTA selected each station for the project, WonderRoot and the TransFormation Alliance, along with Pecou, will plan several meetings with community members to discuss the project and how it can strengthen the adjoining neighborhoods.

"One of the things that's key to this project and something that I'm excited about is the fact that there's a very core community engagement associated with the project," Pecou says. "Before doing anything, I'll be working with WonderRoot to meet with community members to talk about their ideas, their vision, and their concerns with respect to the art that goes into these stations within their community."

All the time spent with the nearby neighborhoods and speaking with residents will help bring a real community feel to the project.

"The positive consequence about having done that work is that we will gather all of this information and data through this art process and then turn that over to the TransFormation Alliance and MARTA, which will help inform and strengthened their work," Appleton says. "This will ensure that there is a diversity of voices and perspectives in the planning work that they are doing."

Ultimately, the hope is that public art can help make MARTA a more attractive mode of transportation to residents nearby and far away and provide more access to these often ostracized neighborhoods.

"MARTA has become kind of a gateway that connects the city and I want to find a way of tying in this idea of connectivity, identity, and community building," Pecou says of the project.

The first MARTA station to see this program implemented will be King Memorial station on Decatur Street. The community meeting will take place later this month.