COLUMBUS, Miss – A group of W art students and their professor are painting their view of Columbus history on an exterior mural in the heart of downtown. It’s a part of the city once known as Catfish Alley.
“The mural is a reflection of the Alley’s history as a lively social and commercial center in downtown Columbus,” said Mayor Robert Smith. “The alley was once one of the few places African-Americans could do business but soon grew to a place that everyone cherished.”
Located on the corner of Fourth Street South and Main Street, the mural will depict Catfish Alley through the years and is a collaboration between The W and the city.
“The people, the architecture and the cars in the mural as they go back into the painting are going back into time,” explained Alex Stelioes-Wills, assistant professor of art. “So once the painting gets to Main Street, the people will be dressed and the cars will be in the 1920s to somewhat capture that period of about 1920 to 1960 when the alley was most vibrant.”
Mayor Robert Smith said, “The Catfish Alley committee wanted a way to ensure that the Alley’s history lives on and the mural will do just that. I’m proud of the progress Wills and the students are making.” The mural is expected to be completed in about a week.
The student helpers and painters are Bobby Anthony, a senior painting major from Brandon; Blaine Garrard, a senior graphic design major from Columbus; and Rebecca McGavock, a senior painting major from Water Valley.
Garrard said, “My responsibilities have ranged from mixing paint colors, sketching; the mathematical grid as well as buildings and people, and taking care of painting precise areas.”
Stelioes-Wills and a different group of students painted the mural on the side of Rex’s Rentals six years ago.