You are powerful, You are loved

 

Urban art is a fantastic tool to bring together artists, communities, and businesses, to create positive social change. Installationslike Southern Equality Studios’ new mural in the River Arts District in Asheville encourages people to stop and think about the struggles trans youth deal with, which in our country resulted in the highest rates of suicide of any teen group. The mural also serves as a reassurance to trans youth in our community that they are powerful and loved.

 

The Southern Equality Studios is a branch of the Southern Campaign for Equality . The mission of the program is to “explore how the arts can be a catalyst and force in achieving lived and legal LGBTQ equality across the South”. Craig White, the Supported Schools Coordinator for the Campaign, believes that this message is even more important in the light of laws   recently proposed by the NC General Assembly that would restrict the rights of trans youth. These laws include sports bans, restroom restrictions, medical treatment prohibitions, and requirements that schools alert parents when a child questions or changes their gender identity. 

 

Liz Williams is the mural artist and Creative Director of Southern Equality Studios. Her mural says “You are Powerful You are Loved”. Williams said she wanted to create a work of art that speaks to trans joy and resilience. “We need these words of affirmation for youth that feel beaten down by the news,” she added.  The mural features trans pride flag colors and a QR code linked to the Southern Trans Youth Emergency Project. The program provides trans individuals with medical services and access to grants. “We need people who are brave in their own self-liberation to be able to freely express themselves and not be judged,” Williams added. “I don’t want people to feel sequestered in a closet or back in the shadows. They really deserve to live life!”

  1. Craig White said that local school boards are also creating their own restrictions on trans kids rights. For example, the Moore County school board passed a district policy misleadingly called the “Parents Bill of Rights”, which decrees that faculty must out kids to their parents if they express interest in gender issues. The Southern Campaign for Equality is supporting guidance counselors and social workers in the county that got together and compiled a list of state and federal laws, and professional codes of ethics that protect trans children. “Parents have rights but students also have rights and privacy protections and they can’t face discrimination based on gender,” said White. Anti-trans bills have doubled since 2022 Kids don’t know where they’ll be safe week to week or month to month.”

 

 Public art is often a tool that artists use to express their ideas to the wider public. The pieces reclaim underutilized space and provide artists a medium  to share opinions about politics and social inequalities. Among the most famous American street artists is Jean-Michel Basquiat. His Neo-expressionist creations in the 1980s challenged conventional narratives and inspired social change, as well as empowering the disenfranchised. In “Bird on Money”, he paid homage to black history and jazz great Charlie Parker. His work “Obnoxious Liberals” is a statement about capitalism and exploitation, and “The Nile” illustrated the brutalities of the slave trade. 

 

More recently, the Walls of Justice project is an online gallery and community forum created in the wake of the George Floyd murder and resulting riots to highlight murals that were created on boarded up businesses throughout the country, and later as permanent installations. Their mission is to “spread a message of positive change through street art” Many of these murals were created in downtown Asheville and later auctioned to raise money for the Asheville Arts Council.

 

William’s mural uses a paste up method in which printed squares of the design are pasted with acrylic medium as an adhesive and coated with a weatherproof varnish . It replaced Ian the Painter’s mural of Ruth Bader Ginsberg that was vandalized by a crew called  ACAB (All cops are bastards) an anti-establishment movement started in England in the 1920a that gained momentum in the “Defund Police” sentiment after the George Floyd murder. Williams said Ian welcomed the project as a great opportunity to recover the space. Volunteers who  collaborated with Williams on the piece came from a range of backgrounds and countries, including Peru, and were excited to support trans youth and their friend Liz. Whisper Moore, the Engagement and Resource Manager for the Campaign or Southern Equality, said  “their mission is to show queer youth that they are loved and supported and there are more people that are behind them than oppose them.”

 

At Mountain Mural Tours,  we look forward to seeing more art in Asheville about social justice issues. We value the power of urban art to make statements about what to celebrate and what to analyze about American culture. And we love that our city provides a canvas to express these ideas. 

 

Duration
1 hour 30 minutes
Group Size
4 to 12

Walls that Speak-Mountain Mural Tour-River Arts and Downtown Asheville

Creativity abounds in Asheville and our artists love to take to the streets. Join us on a colorful urban art tour through the River Arts District and Downtown Asheville with an amazing collection of murals, graffiti, sculpture, and street art installations. You’ll learn about the creators’ stories and inspirations, local history, and the community businesses that have made Asheville a national tourist destination.

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$40
Duration
1 hour 30 minutes
Group Size
4 to 12

Dolly Parton and Beyond- Get off the Beaten Path of Asheville Street Art

Get ready to immerse yourself in Asheville's vibrant urban art scene on this guided walking tour! We'll explore hidden alleyways and bustling streets, discovering the stories and artistic talents behind the city's most captivating murals.
Our adventure begins in the River Arts District downtown, where the city’s art culture was born. We'll marvel at diverse styles, from photorealistic portraits to abstract creations. Our knowledgeable guide will share insights into the local artists and the messages they aim to convey.
No Asheville art tour is complete without a visit to West Asheville! Here, a vibrant community spirit shines through the colorful murals that adorn the walls. We'll stop by the legendary Beauty Parade Hair Salon, where a true Asheville icon – Dolly Parton – graces the side of the building. Artist Gus Cutty's creation features Dolly in all her rhinestone-studded glory, joined by the fabulous RuPaul in a recent update. Snap a selfie with this Instagram-famous mural and learn the story behind this unexpected artistic duo.
We will encounter murals that celebrate Asheville's rich cultural heritage, and local businesses close to the community's heart, or whimsical designs that spark your imagination. Our guide will keep you engaged with interesting facts and anecdotes about the murals and the artists who breathe life into Asheville's streets.
This tour is perfect for art enthusiasts, photography lovers, or anyone seeking a unique way to experience Asheville's culture. It's a chance to appreciate the artistic energy that pulsates through the city and be surprised by the beauty found in unexpected corners. So hop on the bus and join us on a colorful adventure!

Duration
1 hour
Group Size
2 to 12

Walking Foundy Tour

Join us on a walking tour of the Foundy in the River Arts District where we learn about the artists that have worked to create an unforgettable street art experience.

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$30
Duration
2 hours
Group Size
Up to 14

Private Mountain Mural Tour

Take your group on a private tour and paint the town! A Mountain Mural Tour is the perfect way to spend meaningful time with your wedding party, family reunion, bachelor/bachelorette celebration, office party, or birthday pals. These tours are available 7 days a week at flexible times. If you need pick-up and drop off at your lodging an extra fee can be added based on miles from the River Arts District.

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$400
Best Bachelorette party
Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 14

Bride Tribe, Ditch the Veil! Unleash Your Inner Artist on Our Bachelorette Beverage & Art Tour!

Description:

Skip the clichés and raise a glass to creativity! Our Asheville Bachelorette Art and Beverage Tour lets you and your besties explore the city's vibrant street art scene while indulging in the local craft beverage culture.

Immerse yourselves in:

A curated street art tour: Uncover hidden art gems and gain insights into the city's artistic soul from your knowledgeable guide.
Asheville's booming beverage scene: Sample delicious craft beers, ciders, or wines – all with a backdrop of stunning murals.
Sisterhood and laughter: Celebrate your bride-to-be with unforgettable experiences and photo-worthy moments.

What's Included:

Expertly guided street art tour
Tastings at multiple breweries, cideries, or wineries (depending on your preference)
Insider knowledge on Asheville's art and beverage scene

Ready to toast with your besties?

Book your tour today and let the artistic adventure begin! (Link to booking page)

Optional Add-on: For added convenience, upgrade your experience with pick-up and drop-off directly at your accommodation (fee based on distance).

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$400
Duration
2 hours
Group Size
Up to 14

Street Art and Sips

Asheville is an amazing place to have a destination wedding and enjoy a Bachelorette or Bachelor party before the nuptials. Not to mention the perfect place to get together with your besties and enjoy the sights and flavors of this great city. Our breweries, cideries, and wine producers invest in Asheville's art culture by commissioning some of the best murals in our community. Come learn about urban art culture while you sample Asheville's best spirits. If you need pick-up and drop-off at your lodging an extra fee can be added based on miles from the River Arts District.

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TBD