Heading into 2022, professional artist David Boatwright is expected to start work on the second mural project funded and supervised by the Bulloch County Historical Society to fill a highly visible wall in downtown Statesboro.
It was Boatwright and fellow artist Michael Kuffel, both from Charleston, South Carolina, who in early 2020 painted “The Fabulous Fifty of 1906” on the wall at 48 East Main Street facing the side. drive from Statesboro City Hall. This mural depicts December 2, 1906, the return by train of the delegation that secured the district’s first agricultural and mechanical school for Statesboro, which grew through other identities to become the University of Southern Georgia.
For its second mural project, the Historical Society worked with the university’s sociology and anthropology department to delve much deeper into the past of what is now Bulloch County, explained the executive director of the company, Virginia Anne Franklin Waters. The planned set of five paintings on the west-facing wall of the Averitt Center for the Arts at 41 West Main St., the side that includes the entrance to the Whitaker Black Box Theater, will represent Native Americans of the Archaic period. late, from 2,000 to 4,000 years ago.
âI think we’re all very happy with our first mural in downtown Statesboro, and we wanted the second to be in downtown Statesboro, for obvious reasons,â Waters told Statesboro City Council. âThat first mural was about something that changed all of our lives, and it was getting to college and then university here, but I think one area of ââour history that has been seriously neglected is the locals. origin of this region, and we are tackling this. “
Before the Mississippians
The people of the Archaic period were not the same as the last Native Americans of the Mississippian culture who built structures such as the Ocmulgee mounds in Macon and were the ancestors of the Muscogee, or Creek tribes. But according to research carried out by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology over the past three years, the Archaic period, during which indigenous peoples made and used spears but not yet bows and arrows, would have been one of the most active periods in prehistoric times. from that part of Georgia, she said.
Waters presented the mayor and council with five illustrations depicting the wall panels, but which she said were not the Boatwright originals, but ‘Photoshopped’ concept images. It will be guided by more specific information received directly by working with researchers at Georgia Southern, Waters said.
Life by the rivers
One of the conceptual images shows people from the Archaic Period fishing for fish using baskets and a weir, or fish trap, made up of a moat inserted into the bed of a river to form a partially circular enclosure with an upstream opening. Another of the images shows individuals emptying baskets onto a heap, or heap of debris, made up mostly of freshwater mussel shells, which was another important food source. In the background of this image are people doing other tasks, such as cooking over a fire in front of hut-shaped houses. Other images show dugout canoes being made and perch along a blackwater stream and another view of village activities.
The exterior wall of 41 West Main on which the murals are to be painted has several raised vertical elements in the form of columns, dividing it into segments. Five of the wall segments contain small windows and the murals will be painted below the windows, Waters said in an interview.
Due to the size of the wall plan, an exemption from city law was required. In fact, a current Statesboro ordinance limits murals to only 25% of a single building facade. But city staff members recommended approval of the waiver with one condition, that the final specifications be reviewed and approved by city staff. The city’s planning commission by a 5-0 vote on December 7 recommended approval, and city council, by a 4-0 vote, approved the exemption on December 21.
âThis project is blessed by Georgia and the National Council on Native American Relations,â Waters told the mayor and council of Statesboro. âIt’s big. So when we get our dedication, there will be people coming from Washington because we broke new ground on this archaic group here. “
She noted that the Bulloch County Historical Society had already spent $ 3,200 to cover the wall with a base coat of paint, suitable for containing murals, in a shade called camel hair. To paint the mural, the company pays Boatwright $ 25,000 – Waters said this was a base price, so the final cost would be at least equal to that – and he would have to complete the work in about six weeks.
Boatwright is expected to arrive in town on Sunday and begin work on Monday, Jan.3, Waters said. She has a friend who hosts the artist (s) for free.
After the mural is completed, a large bronze plaque made by the International Bronze Company will be affixed to the building, along with text providing information about the area’s Archaic period residents, Waters said.
It is therefore a global project of approximately $ 30,000. The Historical Society’s primary source of funding for all of its projects is the Jack N. and Addie D. Averitt Foundation. With nearly 400 members now, the society also collects between $ 30,000 and $ 40,000 per year in dues.
Averitt Center website
In addition to collaboration with researchers at Georgia Southern University, the project of course involves cooperation with the Averitt Center for the Arts. Current Averitt Center Board Chair Kelly Berry served on the Bulloch County Historical Society Board of Trustees, and Waters now sits on the Averitt Center Board of Trustees.
In a phone interview, Averitt Center executive director Rahn Hutcheson said the basecoat had already improved the wall and he was eager to see what Boatwright would add.
âHe did such a fantastic job on this 1906 mural that we’re looking for something really, really interesting and cool on this site,â Hutcheson said. âYou know, this area has just been dormant and vacant for so long, and I think it’s gonna be pretty cool. “
He noted that the wall is visible from the Statesboro post office, as well as drivers coming from the west and south.
âIt’s a wonderful, wonderful place for something that’s educational, and I know that’s what the Historical Society is trying to do,â Hutcheson said.