901 Now: Westwood artist pays homage to the community through mural paintings

Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 7:18 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2023 at 8:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Westwood artist is beautifying the 901 NOW, one mural at a time.

At the intersection of Raines and Doubletree, you’ll find a large and cheerful mural depicting the heritage of Westwood.

“The pride that I take in doing my work is that I can tell stories that people don’t necessarily see when they come through some of these communities and they drive by,” Tony Hawkins said.

Hawkins is an urban storyteller. He’s dedicated his life to art. The Westwood artist uses his artistic talent to tell stories and convey messages through his artwork.

“Showcasing excitement, a rich history, it’s about being prideful,” Hawkins said.

One of his murals tells the story of the Westwood marching band, a staple in the community.

“They were going to some places that you just didn’t see, people from your neighborhood at,” Hawkins said. “I can’t tell you how many people have stopped their car and was like man I was in this band is that me? I just tell everybody, yeah that’s you.”

In fact, when Action News 5 visited the mural, one resident couldn’t hold back his praise.

“Love this Mural and respect this mural,” the resident said. “Please don’t sabotage it. Look at this talent.”

The Westwood mural is one of several pieces Hawkins has around the city. However, as a Westwood native, he says putting artwork into his community serves a greater purpose.

“It’s about a message—about showing an emotion,” Hawkins said. “And it’s about having that reinforcement so when young people come and see me as a young black person that’s out here doing this work, this is my full-time job, they see that, it’s a positive image. I want them to get messages when they see this artwork.”

Hawkins plans to create a team of artists to help continue his quest to put community-based murals around the city.

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