Learn about the inspiration and black artists behind these historic 4th Avenue neighborhood murals

Black Man Self Love by EL (Erica) Chislom. (Urban Impact)

The murals that line the streets of Birmingham’s historic 4th Avenue district are not only vibrant and beautiful, but are inspired by history, quotes and books. Read on to learn more about the murals and what inspired the artists.

4th Avenue neighborhood murals
It’s time to be real represents a beautiful colorful image. (Urban Impact)

It’s time to be real was created by Avery Harden, a Spelman graduate artist born in Atlanta, Georgia. She has ties to Birmingham through family ties. In a historic city like Birmingham, she felt it would be important to marry our present and our future.

“We must continue to carry our past but look to the future and accept all that the world has to offer us.”

Avery Harden, artist

Where: 1515 5th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203

4th Avenue neighborhood murals
The faces in this mural are painted with monotone shades of blue and orange. (Urban Impact)

EL (Erica) Chisolm is the artist behind this vibrant mural. She had a vision of people can fly of a black American picture book written by Virginia Hamilton.

Hamilton’s book includes stories from:

  • Animals
  • enslaved Africans
  • Fairy tales
  • supernatural tales

In Chisolm’s mural, she challenges the viewer to take flight despite the circumstances.

Where: 1522 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203

4th Avenue neighborhood murals
black man self love by EL (Erica) Chislom. (Urban Impact)

This mural serves as a celebration and expression of black man self love painted by EL (Erica) Chisolm. It is inspired by the way most men are only celebrated after they die. This mural invites us to celebrate these men in the present.

Where: 1709 3rd Avenue N, Birmingham, AL 35203

4th Avenue neighborhood murals
Be kind offers a different perspective on an age-old saying. (Urban Impact)

The Be kind mural is also painted by EL (Erica) Chislom. She got the inspiration to create this mural from the statement “Don’t take my kindness for weakness.” This statement is often associated with feelings of betrayal that drive us away from kindness. Chisolm believes that kindness is the basis of love and that everyone can be kinder.

“Kindness has never been a weakness. With this mural, I hoped to restore strength and respect to kindness.

EL (Erica) Chislom, artist

Where: 314 17th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203

4th Avenue neighborhood murals
This mural magically depicts the hard-hitting saying “Knowledge is power”. (Urban Impact)

Lydia Walker’s inspiration for this mural was inspired by the saying “knowledge is power”. The mural depicts the spirit of knowledge and how it is hidden in plain sight, waiting for you to find it.

“As we continue to align and uncover the truth about our greatness as people of African descent, it is important that we seek out all the things this society is trying to hide from us about ourselves. Knowledge is the tool that can build empires, its absence incubates self-ignorance and a feeling of being lost (without pride).

Lydia Walker, artist

Where: 1610 4th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203 (back of the building)

4th Avenue neighborhood murals
The “For Culture” mural shows tattoos from a different angle. (Urban Impact)

When Kenyan-American artist Pia Muhihu immediately took to the history of the 4th Avenue neighborhood after being chosen to paint a mural in the neighborhood.

Learning that this was, and still is, an area full of black businesses inspired them to create something that would honor the past and connect with the younger generation. Pia found that tattoos are sometimes a stigmatized aesthetic and they wanted to show them in a light that honors history, resistance and memory as a form of resilience.

“These buildings have a heavy but beautiful past and I am happy to be part of the process of revitalizing such a culturally significant area.”

Pia Muhihu, artist

Where: 312 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203

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