The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce has declared the winner of its Mask On, Athens! art competition. Out of the eight finalists selected, sophomore at the University of Georgia Angelica Millen had the winning design.
Millen and her fellow finalists were tasked with designing a face mask that incorporated the Chamber’s theme, “envision Athens.” On Sept. 2, finalists were announced on the Chamber’s Facebook page for the public to vote on their favorite designs. After voting closed on Labor Day, Millen had garnered 23% of the votes, according to a 2020 press release by the Athens Chamber of Commerce.
“When the Chamber had selected me as a finalist, I got a lot of support from my friends and family, ” Millen, an interdisciplinary art and design major, said. “Then when I got the email that I won, I called everyone saying ‘Guys I won!’ It was very exciting.”
Millen said she first heard about Mask On! after her mom got word of it through a UGA parents Facebook group. Days later, Millen saw it again in a newsletter sent by Lamar Dodd School of Art. After these two encounters, Millen took it as a sign that she should submit an entry, so she began to brainstorm ideas for her artistic interpretation of how Athens should be envisioned.
Throughout her design process, Millen said it was difficult to pinpoint her vision to just one single design. So instead, she decided to create a different design in each of the letters spelling “ATHENS,” each representing a different component of the Athens community.
“For the A, I wanted to show racial unity, the T highlights the environment, the H represents successfully educated children, the E represents better transportation options, the N represents live music, and the S is a doodle of artwork to highlight the wonderful arts and culture here in our community,” Millen said in the press release by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce.
As the winner, Millen not only received $1,000, but she also got to see her winning design come to life in the form of 500 masks printed by Satisfactory Printing. These masks are available for purchase for $20, with a discount given for orders of three or more and are also offered in various sizes. All orders must be placed by Sept. 27 on the Satisfactory Printing website.
All the proceeds from Millen’s mask sales will be given to the Athens Creatives Directory, a new online registry created for the Athens creative community by the Athens-Clarke County Economic Development Department and the CREATE Athens division of Envision Athens.
Project Manager of Envision Athens, Erin Barger, said the Athens Creative Directory was created to establish a single location for artists to engage with potential patrons and customers, as well as connect with other members of the Athens creative community. Through Mask On!, Barger said she hopes attention is drawn to the ACD that will improve economic benefits for Athens’ artists.
“Connecting Mask On, Athens! and the creative directory is a way to encourage the safety and respect for the public health of our neighbors, while also considering public health as it relates to the ability to earn a living,” Barger said. “We believe that those who contribute to the creative economy should have support and be compensated for what they bring [to this community].”
Millen said she feels incredibly honored and grateful to play her part in contributing to the creative community of Athens. Moving forward, she hopes that Mask On! will not only encourage people to wear masks but also garner appreciation for other local artists.
“As a UGA student, I feel like [Athens] is my second home,” Millen said. “And I’m so glad that I’m using my art toward something concerning public health that is going to help others in this community.”