As a hub for culture, music, and, of course, art, it’s hard to not catch a glimpse of some of the many murals around town. From installations in Overton Square to pieces all over the Downtown area, Memphis’ artistic community brings so much life, vibrance, and beauty to the city.
One of the latest works to appear? A series of murals on the Mid-South Coliseum created by father-daughter duo Nisa Williams and Theo James. Originally opened in 1963, many Memphians will remember the space as a venue that held many iconic concerts, sporting events, and so much more. After its closure in 2006, The Coliseum Coalition has worked to see that the Coliseum is revitalized and can, once again, be a great asset to our community.
And the six murals are an excellent start! The Coliseum Coalition, which has long advocated for the building’s renovations, raised $5,000 for the project and commissioned Nisa and Theo to create the artwork. Theo, a North Memphis artist who specializes in airbrushing and other graphic work, and Nisa, the project’s lead artist and student at Crosstown High, have created such a beautiful piece for the space.
The murals highlight some of our city’s most influential and inspiring artists, musicians, and civic leaders. Iconic musician Otis Redding represents “culture,” a graduate represents “community,” legendary University of Memphis player and coach Larry Finch represents “talent,” Unapologetic’s logo and members represent “passion,” children and a globe represent “imagination,” and Constance Baker Motley fittingly represents justice.
We caught up with Nisa to learn more about the project and how she and her dad feel about contributing to such an impactful work of art!
Memphis is so fortunate to have a thriving arts community! How does it feel to be a part of something so impactful for the city?
“It’s an honor to feel like we’ve made a contribution to Memphis’ art community. We’re consumers of art that provokes thought and has meaning, so it’s wonderful to pass that feeling on to others!”
What do you hope Memphians experience when viewing your work?
“We hope that they are reminded of iconic appearances and events that happened within the city and the coliseum. Lots of months were spent curating elements that would be recognizable to those who saw the coliseum in its prime, and we hope to get the message across that the people displayed made an impact on members of our community.”
The coliseum is such a Memphis landmark! How does it feel to have your work be a part of its revitalization story?
“We’re honored! The ability to do something so substantial in such an organic way is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! We hope the murals bring more attention to the coliseum’s revitalization, and we’re glad to be a part of it.”
Excited to see the murals for yourself? Next time you’re headed to a Tiger football game, be sure to check them out!