Innovation Quarter Unveils “Aspire to Inspire” by Georgie Nakima
Our latest mural, “Aspire to Inspire” by Georgie Nakima, uses spray paint to put a woman’s mark on a male-dominated field—bringing together the forces of innovation and creativity through art.
Georgie Nakima, a young muralist and an alum of Winston-Salem State University, was awarded a grant through the national artAFFECT program to produce a mural in Winston-Salem. Through her alma mater, she connected with the Innovation Quarter to install this mural on 5th Street, below the Long Branch Trail underpass.
The goal? To create a design that captures cultural diversity and optimism for our community’s future. In addition to the grant, Innovation Quarter developer Wexford Science + Technology sponsored the piece’s priming, coating and plaque. Georgie completed the mural on August 30, 2021, in just a week and a half’s time.
Georgie has been away from the Camel City since graduating in 2012, so she conducted a community survey via Facebook to ensure the who and what of her piece is grounded in our community’s identity and desires. She integrated this input into her art to strengthen the visibility of women and people of color in the Innovation Quarter and enliven pedestrian areas, all while ensuring ownership within the community and beyond as the Innovation Quarter develops further.
“By fusing community with art, I hope to restore a positive reflection of both the history and future of this neighborhood.”
Georgie’s journey as an artist is intertwined with the biological sciences. As a biology major who minored in chemistry, nature and geometry inspire and nurture her art. She feels “empowered to plant seeds of art and science together” to encourage “conversations of well-being, nature preservation, and humanity.”
This philosophy aligns with the Innovation Quarter’s commitment to recognizing, celebrating, utilizing and elevating historically oppressed groups, including people of color, women and the LGBTQI+ community.
Lindsey Schwab, Innovation Quarter’s director of community relations, hopes that the mural will inspire future generations: “Representation of young, minority women in the Innovation Quarter is important to encourage more equitable participation in STEM.”
Considering that Black women held less than 3% of bachelor’s degrees across all STEM fields in 2017-2018, there is indeed a lot of work to do to welcome and encourage women to pursue careers in science, design and innovation. This visual representation in the Innovation Quarter is one small sanction that invites and encourages all to find their spot here.
“Aspire to Inspire” is the newest addition to the Innovation Quarter’s public art collection—adding new subject matter and a new focus within our art ecosystem. Travis Sheridan, chief community officer of mural sponsor Wexford Science + Technology believes public art creates a sense of place within a community.
Sheridan shares, “We believe true innovation happens at the intersection of art and science and the goal is to create a place that feels welcoming for all to participate.”
Even Nakima’s color selection wasn’t entirely determined from the start—leaving a lot to her creative process. Her style fuses African and Indigenous patterns, vivid colors and futuristic geometric shapes with abstract layers and figurative subjects: “When it comes to my process the color scheme is improvised as I work through the painting. But I really enjoy using bright, vivid colors in hopes that people feel good when they see it and carry some of that energy throughout their day.”