<strong>NEXT:</strong> In 2021, you painted a mural at MARTA’s Indian Creek Station. Describe your vision behind the mural.
Melissa A. Mitchell: When I created the mural for MARTA, I really wanted to show something that would inspire people to keep moving. Through my own love of music and energy, I wanted to tell people you can always move to the beat of your own drum. And so if you look at the mural, I have the piano, and it’s almost pointing in the direction of the station, telling people that no matter what, you can keep it moving. That’s what I want people to be inspired to do.
<strong>NEXT:</strong> What was your process for creating the mural?
Melissa A. Mitchell: I pour a lot of emotion into the canvas when I paint, so whatever I’m feeling at the moment, that’s what comes out. I didn’t do a pre-sketch for the mural. I told them what colors I would use and gave them a concept. When I got here [to the station], I put on my AirPods and went to work. I usually have the canvas tell me what to do.
<strong>NEXT:</strong> What does it mean to you to have your art displayed at and through public transit?
Melissa A. Mitchell: When I had the opportunity to work with MARTA, it was a perfect alignment with where I was with my career. Having an actual mural at a MARTA station is very symbolic of movement, right? Movement to me means taking yourself from point A to point B and knowing that you don’t have to stay put anymore. That point B is an open option. Movement gets you going from a place of comfortability to somewhere new. A lot of people at a MARTA station will ask, “How do you get to the train?” and my painting actually shows people the direction they should go.
<strong>NEXT:</strong> Your work is big, both in terms of scale and colors. Why did you choose this style?
Melissa A. Mitchell: I didn’t choose the style. It chose me — when I picked up the brush, this is what came out. I say that I’m a conduit of the heavens in this language I’ve been given. I like to transfer energy. I like to transfer inspiration. I like to let people know that they can keep their head up, no matter what. And that’s why I choose to mix bright colors with music and all the kinds of things that make you say, “You know what? I feel better today because of this piece.” It’s unique because it’s mine, and I stand unapologetically in the way the paint comes out of my brush. And this is how I choose to create daily. It’s my voice; it’s my legacy.
<strong>NEXT:</strong> Can you say more about how your artwork is your legacy?
Melissa A. Mitchell: As an artist, I want to be remembered as somebody who kept going despite what they were feeling, despite how they were treated, despite what was happening in the world around them. And so each piece that I create, I leave a little legacy in each one. I believe that as an artist, my work will both encourage people to keep going and also let them know that you have to leave something behind. If you walk by my artwork at any given point in time, the art would urge you to keep going.