Local artist David Hale has teamed up with AthFest Educates to produce a new mural in downtown Athens. Located on the building where Epiphany is, the mural will replace another one of Hale’s murals which he created in 2016 as a part of a special AthFest Educates grant.
Hale’s new project is going to be a more permanent installation, as it will be directly painted on the wall rather than assembled as panels like his previous work. However, Hale’s panels will not be going to waste after their deconstruction. Instead, they will be auctioned off to raise money for AthFest Educates, according to a Facebook post by AthFest Educates.
The panels, which depict a colorful flock of 20 Georgia songbirds, will be auctioned off starting Oct. 1. Jill Helme, executive director of AthFest Educates, said this particular project was created as a way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the AthFest Music and Arts Festival back in June 2016.
Helme said Hale approached her this past summer with the idea of working on a new mural for the space. This mural will commemorate the 25th anniversary of AthFest which is set to take place in 2021. The pair then decided it would be a good idea to refurbish Hale’s old panels and auction them off to the public.
“When David came to me with the idea of doing a new mural to celebrate 25 years [of AthFest] with the focus on hope and looking forward to what comes next, it made perfect sense,”Helme said. “It was heart-wrenching to cancel the  festival, but we are looking forward to AthFest 2021.”
The theme of the new mural will center around “hope.” Hale said he gathered the inspiration for this idea after experiencing a summer full of unforseen individual and collective challenges.
“Hope is integral to our survival, and I personally hope that this creation can be a beacon to help collectively remind ourselves that there is always a distant Shore, even if it is not always seen,” Hale said in an AthFest Educates press release.
Hale’s new design will showcase 24 swallows, each carrying a branch toward a new nest containing the 25th swallow. This flock will serve as a symbol of hope, as swallows signal the proximity of land for sailors crossing an open ocean, Hale said.
Helme said she is particularly excited for Hale’s new mural to be seen at AthFest in 2021 because the mural will be located right by the AthFest stage. Looking ahead, Helme hopes the piece will inspire not only AthFest attendees but also the Athens community as a whole.
“I think anything that there's public art on display is inspiring to the community,” Helme said. “Public art shows residents and visitors how a community feels about itself and how it celebrates and values its artists.”
This will be Hale’s third mural painted on this particular wall and will represent 15 years of Hale’s creative expression. Hale said he is incredibly humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to share his art with the community and collaborate with AthFest Educates.
“In times of uncertainty and dis-balance, we have historically turned to the arts to find our collective footing,” Hale said in the press release. “These tools must be passed to the youngest members of our world, and AthFest plays an integral role inpassing these skills on here in Athens.”