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Painting the Town: Alecia Vera Buckles, Briah Gober, and Chattanooga’s Newest Mural

Local artists Alecia Vera Buckles and Briah Gober share their thoughts and experiences on creating the Kinley Hotel mural.

Photos by Olivia Ross

Chattanooga is no stranger to murals. The city is dazzlingly painted and plastered with wall art, and now the first new mural in months is greeting anyone walking down Market Street, thanks to two of Chattanooga’s most prominent female artists.

Work on the mural began in February when the Kinley Hotel curator reached out to Alecia Vera Buckles after seeing her Facebook post about wanting to paint more murals. Briah Gober was also chosen to work on the piece after being recommended by the nonprofit organization ArtsBuild.

From late February to mid-March, Alecia and Briah braved the heights of a bucket truck to scale the brick wall of the hotel, covering it as they went up and down. The result was a beautiful mural showing off the unique art styles of both artists combined into one abstract package.

Alecia is no stranger to murals or abstract art pieces. She is unafraid to take on new challenges and is always experimenting. She hopes the mural will serve as a gateway for her to begin doing murals and art projects for other places and in other cities.

“There are a ton of elements that tie the mural to Chattanooga as a whole,” Alecia said, “but we were also inspired by diversity, fellowship, and community. You’ll notice a ton of visual reference through the figurative aspects as well as the color choices.”

The mural was Briah’s first experience of its kind, and she shared that seeing the project end felt bittersweet. While working on the mural, she was also working full-time and taking classes at UTC, making March the “busiest and most fun month of [her] life.”

“The mural itself translates wholeness, togetherness, and inclusivity,” Briah said. “I think the viewer’s interpretation of a piece is the most beautiful and magical part for me. I don’t by any means want to confine the meaning of this piece to have one meaning, but for every person that sees this mural to see themselves within it and create their own meaning. I want this mural to make people question themselves and open their eyes to all the potential that lies within and all the possibilities that there are, not only here in Chattanooga, but all over the world!”

“This is still a dream for me,” Briah continued. “I’m honored to have this as my first mural.”

The Kinley Hotel mural is far from the only project that Alecia and Briah have been working on. Alecia has an online art store that she has been regularly stocking with new products of her own creation. She also has been partnering with local businesses to sell her pieces. Briah just graduated from UTC and is excited to continue focusing on her art career and her ideas for Lovely Intoxication, a brand and clothing line that she has long dreamed of.

The Kinley Hotel mural could not have been created without the help of ArtsBuild and the Artist Work Grant, Public Art Chattanooga, Southeast Tennessee Development District, and countless others.

Be sure to follow both Alecia and Briah on Instagram and check out the mural on Market Street!

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