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Lynchburg artist behind mural celebrating ‘Black Girl Magic’ brings energy, experience to local art scene

Lynchburg artist behind mural celebrating ‘Black Girl Magic’ brings energy, experience to local art scene

The mural seemed to appear overnight.

Off Fort Avenue, against sheets of corrugated metal, the profile of a woman spilled across a garage door in waves of blues, browns and yellows. Like a mirage, she seemed inexplicable against the flaking metal of the building — paint bleeding down onto the asphalt, an unexpected visitor brightening an industrial city block.

“I’ve never found a Black girl on a wall before,” Christina Davis said. Not in Lynchburg.

“A Black woman feeling beautiful is an important visual to have. That’s what public art is for — starting a conversation.”

Although Davis’s mural, “Make Waves,” was the product of four days of nonstop work and has garnered widespread community interest, she’s been a part of the Lynchburg hustle for years.

Determined to cement herself in the Hill City art scene since she started taking art classes in elementary school, Davis, 28, has built her community from the ground up.

What began with teaching volunteer art classes at both the YMCA and the Academy Center of the Arts has blossomed into a career as an art teacher at Blue Ridge Montessori School in Forest, with gigs teaching online, and her own face painting business, Pick and Paint.

An E.C. Glass grad, Davis said being an artist requires an entrepreneurial spirit, and she drives around Virginia to partner with different area artists.

Her new mural in midtown largely was in response to the Black Lives Matter protests happening in recent weeks, with Lynchburg residents seeking justice and accountability from law enforcement and city systems in light of police brutality across the country.

Davis said the image was inspired by the Black Girl Magic movement — a concept born to celebrate the beauty, power and resilience of Black women. With a beautiful Black woman more than 10 feet tall plastered on the side of Hill City Hardwood at 1208 Thurman Ave., Davis said she wants to give voice to a different kind of story about Black women in the city.

Growing up in Lynchburg, Davis said she has had to navigate a lot of racism to get where she is, but she doesn’t want the story that emerges from her art to be “a sad one.”

“A lot of us are putting it all into this city,” Davis said. “Black Girl Magic was something so important to us growing up, it’s why we have such a strong hustle. We’re filling gaps we see in our community.”

This was her first big project in more than two years since the birth of her daughter, Amara.

She said her daughter was thrilled by the project, even more thrilled to watch her mother paint a woman “that looks like herself,” and that these big, positive images will help broaden horizons for Amara, and other little girls around the city.

“I think it’s long overdue,” said Michelline Hall, a photographer and co-owner of Blackwater Branding in Lynchburg. Hall has collaborated with Davis on projects for more than seven years and said it’s incredible to watch her build an even bigger base.

“She didn’t come out of nowhere,” Hall said. “She’s been here, and has been consistent … art impacts and affects everybody.”

Hall said seeing diversity reflected in public art is vital, especially freeing these works from existing only in certain sections of town. Though areas of downtown have been designated Lynchburg’s “art district,” with clusters of galleries and shops along the riverfront, Hall and Davis want to see public art spread everywhere in the city.

“It’s full of energy that is going to make you smile. It’s definitely going to make you stop. It’s a magical, whimsical piece in a drab, industrial part of the town,” Hall said of the mural. “It’s important reflecting the people who live in those neighborhoods and those communities.”

Davis said she’s coming back to the art scene with a vengeance, with new murals planned throughout the summer and her work currently showing at the Academy downtown and at Bean Tree Café in Cornerstone.

“We are a part of Lynchburg. We live here; we are around the corner,” Davis said. “We want to help change the conversation a little bit, and a great start is a beautiful woman.”

Sarah Honosky covers Appomattox and Campbell counties at The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5556.

Sarah Honosky covers Appomattox and Campbell counties at The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5556. 

“We are a part of Lynchburg. We live here; we are around the corner. We want to help change the conversation a little bit, and a great start is a beautiful woman.” —Christina Davis

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