As we usher in the start of Black History Month, the Latin American Association (LAA) is thrilled to reflect on a special collaboration that took place during Hands On Atlanta’s MLK Weekend of Service. Partnering with Hands on Atlanta, we embarked on a beautification project for the LAA building, featuring a vibrant mural by the talented artist, Lori Smith, founder of Hearts to Hands ATL. In this blog post, we delve into Lori’s journey as an artist and explore the significance of the connection between the Black and Latino communities through her eyes.
Lori’s Artistic Journey: Lori’s passion for art has deep roots in her family, with influences from her grandfather, aunt, and mother. While she was at Georgia State University pursing her undergraduate degree, she started painting on the side to have extra income. After college, she was an early childhood education teacher, but she knew she wanted to teach art. So, in 2017, she started teaching art. Alongside her teaching, she also found several different opportunities with non-profits, painting murals and doing different art projects.
After teaching art for seven years, Lori decided to pursue her dream full-time, establishing Hearts to Hands ATL. The mission of her company is not only to create art but also to provide a safe space for people to explore their creativity and connect with their inner child.
HeARTs To Hands Atlanta’s Inception: The idea for Hearts to Hands ATL originated in 2016 when Lori recognized the lack of diversity in the art studio she was working at. This experience made her realize that she not only wanted to make art, but she also wanted to teach it. Lori says, “Hearts to Hands ATL started as just an idea because I wanted to teach youth about artists that looked like them because that was important to me.”
Even the art education she encountered never showed her that she could make it her career. She wanted to be the one showing her current students that it is possible.
Her desire to teach youth about current artists who looked like them led to the establishment of Hearts to Hands ATL, with a focus on creating a safe and inclusive space for people to be creative.
Hands On Atlanta MLK Weekend of Service Collaboration with LAA: Being an Atlanta native, Lori felt a strong connection to the diverse communities around her. The collaboration with LAA on MLK Day was a perfect opportunity for her to showcase the diversity within Latino culture through a mural. Lori’s commitment to representing various countries and skin tones in her art aligns seamlessly with LAA’s mission of “Opportunity for All.”
“That connection between the African American culture and the Latino culture, as being minorities, there are certain struggles and fights and things that we can relate on and we can work together to reach that common goal.” – Lori Smith
Importance of Connection Between Communities: In an insightful interview, Lori emphasizes the significance of community and collaboration. She believes in the strength of working together, even when individuals come from different backgrounds. Drawing parallels between the African American and Latino communities, Lori highlights the common struggles and the importance of unity to achieve shared goals.
I try to always have some collaborative piece where everybody can contribute because that’s what makes a strong community. We don’t have to do things alone. You can reach for that support. Nobody here is the best painter, but when it all comes together, it all comes together. It’s a larger representation of what community is. The importance of working together even when we all have different backgrounds and things going on. And even if we’re influenced by those things, we’re still able to work together and pick up where we all need to pick up at.” – Lori Smith.
The Mural’s Impact on LAA’s Community: For Lori, creating the mural at LAA holds great importance. The mural serves as a visual representation of diversity, allowing clients to connect, relate, and feel seen. The “Opportunity for All” slogan resonates strongly, reinforcing the idea that art has the power to bridge gaps, make connections, and bring people together.
As we celebrate the beginning of Black History Month, Lori Smith’s artistic contribution to LAA stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, diversity, and unity. The mural, with its rich representation of cultures, serves as a constant reminder that art can transcend boundaries, fostering connections and opportunities for all.
For mural or art inquiries, please visit Hearts to Hands ATL Atlanta’s website: https://heartstohandsatl.com/