Buford Highway is now home to another new mural by Atlanta artist and activist Yehimi Cambrón as part of the Atlanta History Center’s new Neighborhood Initiative program.
The mural is located outside the NCG Cinema Brookhaven movie theater in Northeast Plaza at 3365 Buford Highway. Cambrón said it celebrates the diversity and growth of the local Latino community.
Atlanta History Center will host a public — and socially distanced — launch to unveil the new artwork at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27. The center invites people to drive up in their cars and admire the mural in their vehicles or outside following COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The mural, titled “Mi Gente,” depicts five portraits of Latino people who Cambrón said have contributed to the growth of the Atlanta community. It also includes vignettes of Latino culture, including themes about education and work.
The mural has portraits of local leaders and “everyday” people, she said. It includes Teodoro Maus, the Mexican consul general in Georgia in 1995-2001; Felipa Martinez, a mother of one of her art students; Jason Esteves, the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education chair, Arizbeth Sanchez, Freedom University’s community engagement coordinator; and Danny Cabrera, one of her former students.
“Painting ‘Mi Gente’ felt like an act of gratitude to the community that welcomed me and contributed to my growth,” Cambrón said in a press release. “The mural is a landscape constructed of monumental portraits embracing smaller vignettes inspired by the values and points of pride in the community.”
Cambrón’s newest mural is part of the Buckhead-based Atlanta History Center’s Neighborhood Initiative, which aims to tell the stories of Atlanta in partnerships with residents of different communities. Stories gathered through this initiative will go into the “Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta” exhibition at the center.
“The Atlanta History Center came to this project with a commitment to work with communities to share history in ways that are locally relevant and useful,” said Calinda Lee, the History Center’s vice president of historical interpretation and community partnerships.
The first 50 guests of the mural launch will receive a free bag with a print of the mural, a coloring book and crayons and information from the project partners. Atlanta History Center recommends listenin
g to the Spotify playlist “Brilla Mi Gente,” which was curated by Atlanta Latino artist project La Choloteca.
Cambrón, a former Cross Keys High School art teacher and graduate, is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient, or “Dreamer.” She’s a vocal advocate for other Dreamers and the Latino community.
Her parents moved from Mexico when she was a child, and she’s thought of Buford Highway as her home ever since, Cambrón said in the press release.
Cambrón has another mural at the Latin American Association on Buford Highway, which she unveiled in April 2019.
A version of the mural, a monarch butterfly with book pages as one set of wings, was originally painted on the side of Havana Sandwich Shop in 2017 as a collaboration between public art nonprofit Living Walls and Buford Highway nonprofit We Love BuHi.
However, Havana Sandwich Shop owner Debbie Benedit painted over that mural after someone vandalized its “#heretostay” message, saying the restaurant did not want to get involved in politics.
Cambrón was also commissioned by Atlanta arts organization WonderRoot and the city’s Super Bowl Host Committee to participate in the “Off the Wall” public art project for the 2019 Atlanta Super Bowl.
Eleven artists painted 30 murals around the city that depicted its history with civil rights, with Cambrón painting two.
One of her murals is a portrait of Dreamers with the stripes of the American flag in the background, which is located under the Georgia State MARTA Station, The other pays tribute to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and is on the side of the American Hotel Atlanta Downtown.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Cambrón as a current, rather than former, teacher at Cross Keys High School.