Community votes to paint over naked mural

1:52 AM, Sep 11, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Is it art or obscenity? That's the question that has been swirling around a controversial piece of public art -- an oversized mural in Atlanta's Chosewood neighborhood depicting a woman in various stages of undress.

Neighbors finally got a chance to weigh in on the debate. On Monday, members of the Chosewood Park Neighborhood Association voted to urge the property owner to paint over the mural.

"It's offensive to our women and children," neighbor Tajiddin Muwwakkil said. "It's pornographic."

It was painted by a non-profit organization that seeks to transform empty walls in blighted areas into artistic displays. More than a dozen other murals debuted at the same time as this one, but none of the others provoked complaints.

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The mural is a series of pictures that starts and ends with a nude woman. Through the advancing pictures, she is covered in what appears to be fur, and then disrobes. The pile at her feet turns into an animal and walks away.

One side of the artistic argument says it's obscene to show a woman undressing on a wall that is passed by school buses every day. There is a church across the street and a mosque down the road.

That side appeared to have won the fight when the owner ordered the painting covered up. But apparently they changed their minds when hearing from the other side.

"It stands for transformation; it's about starting off the world innocent and pure," said Tina Arnold, who runs a non-profit that cleans up blight in the neighborhood down the street from the mural. "Things change and we become more jaded, then we transform, if we want to, out of our worldly ways and shed our insecurities."

When contacted Thursday, one of the members of the Sawtell Development Partners, the group that owns the site, said September 10 was the new deadline. If the community makes clear its support of the mural at that night's meeting, and the city approves it, it will stay.

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