Haywood Street Fresco – Asheville, North Carolina - Atlas Obscura
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Asheville, North Carolina

Haywood Street Fresco

This ancient art form was used to capture the lives and struggles of the Haywood Street ministery.  

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The Haywood Street Fresco tells the story of the Haywood Street congregation, nicknamed affectionately “Holy Chaos,” from its beginnings as just an idea, to a community creating relationships across societal divisions. 

Unlike historic frescos that depict wealthy patrons or powerful political figures, the 31 portraits on this fresco were taken from the Haywood Street community. Many who have suffered from poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness, or other afflictions that left them on the margins of society make up this community and ministry. These individuals represent those generally overseen or shunned by society, and their bold display in this work of art is a declaration meant to change our perception.

Creating a fresco is one of the most labor-intensive artistic methods, and also one of the most ancient. A physically and mentally demanding art form, the technique requires using natural pigments mixed with distilled water, then applied to a layer of wet plaster. 

The fresco itself is non-secular in its imagery. The scene depicts a community serving and being served, while gathered under an expansive rainbow, complete with giving hands. The Blue Ridge mountains and architectural elements of downtown Asheville form the background.

The Haywood Street Fresco was created by a young team of artists mentored by fresco painter Benjamin Long IV, and led by principal artist Christopher Holt. It took two years of planning before painting on the wall began on July 1, 2019, and continued until it was completed in September 2019.

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