Black Lives Matter Street Mural Project

The Asheville Area Arts Council, on behalf of a group of community groups and leaders,  has been proactively supporting the development of a proposal for a temporary Black Lives Matter Street Mural in Pack Square Plaza, our central public square. Because the installation of this mural would serve as an expression of government speech regarding public concerns- in this case, on racial equity- it is important that the City Council publicly vote on this item. That vote is scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, 2020. 

Many thanks go to Councilwoman Sheneika Smith for providing the leadership to bring community members, artists, and Asheville City Council together to consider this proposed public art installation. The Arts Council is proud to serve as the coordinating body and fiscal agent for this initiative, which we and our partners agree can- in Sheneika’s words-  “ galvanize solidarity and celebrate our collective movement towards addressing systemic issues locally”.

BLM Street Mural

Lead Artists

Jenny Pickens

Jenny Pickens is a self-taught artist from Asheville, NC. At a very young age she had a love for drawing and crafting with her hands. Pickens’s work extends across several mediums, including pencil, pen and ink, pastels, oils, fiber arts, pottery, and jewelry, but  her medium of choice is acrylics. She has received several awards, and her work has been featured in newspapers, galleries, and festivals. Pickens also has several murals throughout the city, including her newest installation at LEAF Global Arts. Pickens says her paintings and crafts are related to cultural background, and that is something she never wants to lose. 


Joseph Pearson

Joseph Pearson is a native Mississippian. He moved to  Asheville five years ago from New Orleans. He is a national and international award-winning painter specializing in portraits, murals, and figure drawing. Pearson’s work has social and political leanings and can be found throughout New Orleans, Hammond, and Alexandria in Louisiana. His work can also be found in several places around Asheville, including an installation at All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village and in Benne on Eagle in downtown. Pearsons has been collected and exhibited regionally and nationally. He trained at the Art Student League in New York for five years under a full scholarship. Pearson also holds a B.S. in Art Education and a Master’s in Education.  


Marie T. Cochran

Marie T. Cochran is a native of the Northeast Georgia Mountains. She is the founding curator of the Affrilachian Artist Project, which celebrates the intersection of cultures in Appalachia and nurtures a network of individuals and organizations committed to the sustainability of a diverse region. As a visual artist, Cochran creates mixed media pieces that address community history and are often grounded in interdisciplinary dialogues focused on social justice. She has exhibited extensively throughout the Southeast and nationally. Cochran received degrees from the University of Georgia (BFA) and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA). She has been an art faculty member at colleges in Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, and North Carolina. Cochran was recently named the 2020/2021 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies at Duke University and American Studies and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.



We need financial support to help make this happen! Our goal is to raise $22,100 for supplies, documentation, maintenance, removal, and most importantly to make sure the artists get paid. The Asheville Area Arts Council is the fiscal agent for this project. Please donate what you can and help us spread the word!


$  6,000 Painting supplies and other event day expenses
$         0 Documentation (live stream video, photographer) – covered in-kind
$  2,000 Maintenance (This temporary installation could be in place for up to a year. Because of wear and tear from vehicular traffic it will require additional maintenance.)
$  6,000 Removal (As part of the approval process, we must provide a maintenance and removal plan. This expense is based on quotes we have collected from other similar projects.)
$  8,100 Artist Honorariums ($1,000 for 1 lead artist per word & $300 per letter for supporting artists)
$22,100 TOTAL*

*Please keep in mind that we are working to have some of these expenses covered by in-kind donations, which should bring down the overall project cost.


How are the funds being used to support the black community?

One of the main purposes of the Black Lives Matter mural is to elevate the voices of black artists and make sure they are paid for their work. But, it is much more than that. “The artists who will put their hands to this street mural represent many untold stories,” said Councilwoman Smith. “It is my hope that all eyes that connect with this piece will experience and appreciate the bloody truths released from our collective memory onto a hard canvas. Yet, this is more than a painting or bold expression. It’s an altar that observes the most sacred social movement of my lifetime.”

Are there ways to bring down the project costs?

Yes, we are actively seeking as much in-kind support as possible. If you know someone that would be willing to donate paint and other supplies let us know. Please keep in mind that the better quality of the paint the longer the mural will last.

That being said, we feel strongly that the artists and other professionals working on this project should be paid.

Why is this project temporary?
The reason this project is temporary is two-fold: 1) the approval process takes longer and expense goes up if it is permanent, and 2) this is meant to be a bridge until a decision is made about what to do with the Vance Monument.

Other Murals