White Walled is a mini-documentary following the struggle of a few street artists trying to make a difference in their community with the power of art.
Role: Editor, Director of Photography
In the summer of 2011, Savannah-based artists Matt Hebermehl and James “DrZ” Zdaniewski completed a joint project on the block-long wall at 34th Street and Habersham: ARTPORT. A symbol of the city’s small, but vibrant, art community. Despite having full permission from the property owner, SAV Police Department painted over the mural only a few days later— without any notice. They had been white walled.
That same year, Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang started the Before I Die project in New Orleans. It grew into a powerful movement that rapidly spread across over 70 different countries.
Inspired by Chang’s success, Matt and James set out to implement a set of BID walls in their own community. This time they were sure to involve city officials in the process. After going through due process with city permits, two walls were installed at opposite ends of the town: one on MLK Boulevard, and one on Waters Avenue.
These two neighborhoods couldn’t be any more different. MLK is the center of tourism and a private art university, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and the Waters Ave area being a failed revitalization project. The idea of putting a BID wall in these neighborhoods came from the desire to start a conversation, albeit in chalk, between people who otherwise may never cross paths despite living only a few miles apart.
As with the Artport project, however, the Before I Die walls ran into major interference when just a couple Waters Avenue neighbors began objecting to the mural, launching a controversy that would have the whole city in a furious debate reaching beyond just painted walls.