Color ATL Creates Outside the Lines Social Change

By November 21, 2016 No Comments

ColorATL is the best idea you never thought of. It’s one of those ideas that make you smack your forehead and give yourself a side eye. ColorATL is a one-to-one coloring book that features local artists and benefits a broad swath of Atlanta’s folks in need such as the homeless and chronically ill. It has everything.

You already know the mind and motor behind ColorATL. William Massey, or Divided Mass as some of his art is known by, is the creator of the striking installations peering at your BeltLine jog from under the Freedom Parkway Bridge. Those pieces are Atlanta’s Doctor T. J. Eckleburg and have cemented William’s standing as one of Atlanta’s favorite artists.

But what you don’t know about William is that aside from his remarkable work in the public sphere, he does some very quiet and important work that has informed ColorATL. Gather Good caught up with William to chat about this art endeavor and his journey to outside-the-lines social goodness.

What was the process of creating ColorATL like?

The process of this growing has been so organic and unforced. Every piece of this project and every step has flowed into itself. It has been fun to follow the cues.

I’ve been doing art as therapy, or the therapeutic arts, a non-medical way to do art and feel better, for about 5 years. The power of art has my changed my life and I wanted to share that, so when I was driving past the hospital one day something just clicked. A month later, I went to South Georgia Medical Center and started approaching people who were getting treated for cancer. I sat next to them, got to know them and incorporated the arts to help time pass while they got chemo; art also helped them alleviate discomfort and process trauma, fear and worry. It spread from there to hospitals, other cancer centers, nursing homes, health and hospice homes and homeless shelters. Wherever people are feeling shitty or are in difficult circumstances, I used art to bring back joy and hope in their lives, as well as ease tension and bring peace.

Then a year and a half ago, I was talking with friends and someone brought up how silly adult coloring books are. But I couldn’t stop thinking about how cool it would be to have all the known and unknown artists in Atlanta in a coloring book. I figured that if people who don’t experience art very often are using these coloring books to express themselves creatively then we should make one.

This idea was stuck in my head for months until all the ingredients came into place. I was in this community arts program at C4 Atlanta and there was a pilot program called Hatch which works with artists engaging the community. I told my peers there about this community driven project in the arts and they were onboard, so we jumped in. My friend, Amber Guinn, who works with me doing arts therapy helped with editing, revision and lots of encouragement. And Connor Dwyer jumped in to develop an epic logo and brand identity.

Between our pre-sale campaign and our launch we have sold over 1,000 books and allocated 1,000 more to be gifted to those in need. I didn’t think it would gain as much traction as quickly as it has. I’m so excited to get this book into the hands of the people who can utilize it.

What makes this project so special?

coloratl-24It is important for people to maintain their childhood. That sense of whimsy, joy, exploration and humility should be a core essential for your whole life. This coloring book isn’t an end, it’s a start to the creativity that we once knew but might not feel any more. Coloring gives you structure but freedom within that; it gives you a starting point to release your vision in a way that is less intimidating than a blank canvas. Getting people creatively engaged enhances their quality of life and the coloring book is just the start of that.

Through ColorATL you also get to know the creative landscapes you are part of just by living in the city. You get to know artists and learn about the concepts and passion behind their work. So not only do you get to have fun, relieve stress, and find your joyful inner child, but you also get to learn about how and why other people do, and how and why they are living out their dreams through creativity.

All profits will go to directly benefit and support the therapeutic art programs of our partnering organizations: The Gateway Center, Mercy Care, Winship Cancer Institute, ReMergeATL and The Women’s Transitional Center. These organizations are already using the arts to uplift individuals or bring together communities. We’re not trying to compete; we want to enhance and promote what is already happening.

How can people grab a coloring book?

You can grab one on and local retail locations such as The Atlanta Contemporary, Home-Grown, Eco Denizen, Binders, Spruill Gallery and Cover Books.

Images are property of Color ATL