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Girl Scout leads contest of middle school girls to devise murals for PATH400

By David Pendered

A Girl Scout has coordinated an art contest open to girls in middle school to design five murals that are to be painted on a concrete pillar along PATH400, in Buckhead.

Katie Maier

The murals are to depict plants and animals that are native to Georgia. The contest is open to girls in public or private schools in Atlanta, in grades 6, 7 or 8. Thursday is the current deadline for applications, and more information and an entry form is posted on a webpage of the sponsor, Livable Buckhead.

Katie Maier came up with the idea of a student art contest as part of her work to complete the requirements of the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award available to Girl Scouts. The “Picture Your Path” contest continues a personal connection Katie established with PATH400, which started when one of her artworks was chosen to be painted along the pathway.

When Katie was in fifth grade at The Lovett School, her design was chosen to be turned into a Plexiglas covering that disguised electrical boxes along a portion of PATH400, between Old Ivy and Wieuca roads. Katie’s design, “Sunburst,” was one of 10 chosen to decorate the pathway as part of the “Playing with Shadows” contest.

Now, Katie’s a rising member of the Class of 2022. Katie explained her current project in a story published in Lovett’s student newspaper, the OnLion:

  • “As a member of Lovett’s Girl Scout troop 11461, I had the great honor a few years ago of becoming part of Path 400. In 2015, I won an art contest sponsored by the organization Livable Buckhead where my design was permanently installed in an exhibit along the first segment of Path 400.”

Katie Maier (right) and Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, pose next to Katie’s winning entry in a 2005 student art contest to decorate PATH400. Credit: Livable Buckhead

Katie’s story goes on to recall the happiness she felt at having her design for a mural permanently displayed along PATH 400. She thought that other girls might enjoy a similar emotion, and continued in her story:

  • “I reached out to Livable Buckhead to see if I could sponsor a new art project for the latest phase of PATH400. Livable Buckhead thought it was a great idea and plans were put into place to use student artwork for murals along PATH 400.”

Livable Buckhead is the non-profit entity coordinating the construction of PATH400. The multi-use trail is being pieced together from slivers of public land, and is to connect Sandy Springs with a portion of the Atlanta BeltLine, in an area southeast of Piedmont Hospital.

Livable Buckhead has become a significant backer of public art – some would call it graffiti – in Buckhead. Most recently, in October, 2019 the organization collaborated with MARTA’s Artbound program to select and fund a mural in a high-visibility area of Ga. 400.

Defense against unwanted graffiti is part of the purpose of the public art program. Denise Starling, Livable Buckhead’s executive director, said last year that taggers tend to not paint over someone else’s artwork. By painting murals on blank canvases that are probably going to be tagged, chances are reduced that offensive messages will be scrawled on surfaces, Starling said.

David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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