FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2021
LOCAL ARTIST SELECTED FOR MARTA PROJECT THAT WILL ADDRESS COVID-RELATED CHALLENGE THROUGH ART
MARTA Received Smart Growth America Grant for Unique Public Art Project
ATLANTA – The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) public art program Artbound is proud to announce Atlanta artist and social worker Franco Bejarano has been selected for a unique public art project funded by Smart Growth America (SGA). The project will have Bejarano address a COVID-related transit challenge through art.
During the pandemic, MARTA has seen an increase in unsheltered individuals using the transit system as temporary shelter. As a result, MARTA and HOPE Atlanta, a non-profit organization that offers housing, social services, substance abuse counseling, and employment, began a yearlong pilot program to take a humane and tactical approach to homelessness. The MARTA Hope Initiative pairs experienced HOPE Atlanta case managers with trained Field Protective Specialists (FPS) under the auspices of the MARTA Police Department. Working on a daily basis, the outreach teams actively engage unsheltered individuals they encounter on MARTA property including on trains and buses, and at rail stations and bus shelters.
“We are grateful to SGA for this opportunity to thoughtfully address the MARTA Hope partnership and its work since the pandemic hit,” said Artbound Director Katherine Dirga. “With his social work experience and immense artistic talents, Franco Bejarano is the perfect person to explore this complex issue through art.”
Bejarano currently works in the field of homeless services and uses his artwork to tackle societal issues and mental health through the mediums of portraiture, children’s books, and art therapy. For the last four years, Bejarano has been creating life-size portraits of people experiencing homelessness with whom he has formed strong personal relationships throughout their journey in housing them. Just this year, he received a proclamation from the Atlanta City Council for his housing work.
Bejarano will shadow the MARTA Hope outreach teams to better understand the perspective of both the unsheltered individuals and MARTA and use that experience to create a work of public art. The SGA grant provides his fee, materials, and pays for other expenses.
Follow Artbound projects systemwide on Instagram @marta_artbound.
About Smart Growth America
Smart Growth America envisions a country where no matter where you live, or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize our vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity.