Art professor creates mural in downtown Macon

Art professor creates mural in downtown Macon

For Abraham Abebe, creativity runs through his veins. With his skills, he can take a blank canvas and turn it into something both beautiful and meaningful. 

Abraham Abebe works on the mural. (Photo from MTA)
Abraham Abebe works on the mural. (Photo from MTA)
From mid-December to mid-January, he worked most days from sun-up to sun-down installing a mural on Macon-Bibb County Transit Authority’s Historic Terminal Station. Abebe braved the cold and wind working through both Christmas and New Year to complete “The Spirit of Macon.”

“I started on Dec. 18. Then, from there, I just continued working every day—except two days in between there was rain, so I couldn’t work,” Abebe said. “I would go in the morning and finish when it got dark.”
 
He scheduled the work between his semesters of teaching at Georgia College. Abebe is an associate professor of art and graphic design. This semester he’s teaching Graphic Design, Studio II, Graphic Design Studio III and Special Topics in Design.
 
“This was a great opportunity for me to have this kind of experience so that I can teach the techniques, the process and the ups and the downs of creating a mural for my students,” he said. “I hope they will be able to learn from my experience and also do things like this in the future when they get the opportunity.”
 

The Spirit of Macon Mural


Abebe created four murals—two indoors and two outdoors— while living in Las Vegas. This is, however, the largest he’s completed.
 
“I saw the announcement from the Macon-Bibb Transit Authority (MTA). Then I created and submitted two different proposals,” Abebe said. “The committee selected one of my proposals, and that's how I was chosen to do this.”
The wall before the mural was created. (Photo from MTA)
The wall before the mural was created. (Photo from MTA)

 
He based the design on the connection between the MTA and the community. 
 
“I tried to develop the mural to magnify the significant service and contribution the MTA provides for the citizens and community in Macon,” Abebe said. “At the same time, I tried to reflect the diversity within the community as well. I used the power of the color in the warm energy just to show the harmony and unity in the diverse community.”
 
Along one side, the mural features an MTA bus with recognizable historical and modern buildings in Macon. It turns the corner to include several birds, a mosaic and sun. 
 
“The MTA bus is a central element to bring the community together. I used it as a symbol to highlight its significant contribution,” said Abebe. “I also used birds as a conceptual element to reflect service of excellence, progress and achievement.”  
 
“Macon is rich in history and culture. Therefore, the historical buildings were used to represent the historical significance of the city and the modern buildings were used to magnify the change and progress,” he said.   
Abraham Abebe (Photo from MTA)
Abraham Abebe (Photo from MTA)

 
MTA was awarded the funds for this project through a Downtown Challenge Grant, 2.0 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Peyton Anderson Foundation. 
 
“My exact words on the grant proposal were ‘the goal is to inject the dreary corner of Fifth and Poplar Streets with a bold injection of art,’” said Jami Gaudet, public information officer for MTA. “It was one of the most depressing corners—just awful—and now it's alive with color.”
 
Gaudet led the process to have the mural installed. From writing the original grant proposal to having a committee review the 12 applicants, she personally wanted something created that everyone could enjoy. 
 
“These buses—every day we operate, multiple times a day—they all come past that corner,” Gaudet said. “I thought, wouldn't it be amazing for our bus operators and for our riders to see something beautiful, electric and inspiring.”
 
Although he faced some challenges along the way, Gaudet said Abebe aced the design and execution. Now the MTA drivers, riders and the community have something beautiful to enjoy. 
 
 “One day it was wind, and one day it was rain. One day, it was ice that melted,” Gaudet said. “Every day he’s had a challenge, but he's unflappable. He never is cross about anything. He's just been delightful to work with.”
 
Proud to bring color and hopefully happiness to those who pass it, Abebe is grateful for the opportunity to share his work.  

“It's a great feeling that I'm contributing something that's visual because 1000s of people every year pass through that station,” Abebe said. “They will be able to see this work and appreciate it because the wall was empty. There wasn't any kind of attraction. Now there's something they can see and appreciate.”
 
For more information on the mural and to see a day-by-day documentation of the process, visit https://www.facebook.com/maconbibb.transit.