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7 Murals to See Across Middle Tennessee

If you're crisscrossing the backroads of South Central Tennessee, you'll see plenty of walking horse farms, numerous historic squares, and a train caboose or two. You'll also spy a growing presence of public art in towns across the regions. Looking for a great selfie spot? Here are some of the best murals in Middle Tennessee perfect for just that.


Columbia


Columbia was part of the Walls for Women initiative that gave female artists large-scale walls across the state to exercise their creativity without inhibition, and Nashville artist Tara Aversa painted "Lady Justice" on a highway wall just south of downtown. The mural was inspired by her grandmother Constance and her sisters who came from a large Italian family and grew up in New York. She painted each of them as a different flower that surround the Greek goddess who represents the virtue of justice.


Photo: Odinn Media


Lawrenceburg


As part of a National Endowment for the Arts nation-wide women's suffrage project, Tennessee artist Megan Lingerfelt painted "Wave of Lace" to tell the story of Lawrenceburg's own 19th Amendment history. While Tennessee was the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th Amendment in August 1920, Lawrenceburg was ahead of the curve. The Lawrence Democrat—the predecessor to today's The Democrat-Union, the county paper since 1884—was a champion of many early-20th century progressive causes, and its editors consistently supported giving women the right to vote.


Photo: Odinn Media


The first time a woman voted in Lawrenceburg was on May 13, 1919; many prominent society women went to the polls together that afternoon. Overall, The Democrat reported that 161 women, both Black and white, participated in that first mixed-sex municipal election in

1919.


Bell Buckle


Bell Buckle's iconic mural in its back alley has recently gotten a refresh via a new coat of paint. The piece of art by Clint Clarneau was originally painted in the 1990's and updated just a couple years back. It depicts some of Bell Buckle's most famed characters, like an RC Cola and a MoonPie, and is adjacent to a pollinator garden with some other fun bee-inspired public art.


Photo: Odinn Media


Tracy City


Up on the mountain in South Cumberland, "Lantern Light" by Megan Lingerfelt tells the story of the area's deep mining history. Coal mining was how many of the plateau's early residents made a living. A mining town labor movement sprung up against using prison labor to compete with unions. Visitors to the area can still see the old Lone Rock Coke Ovens—where coal was heated, but not burned, to convert it into “coal coke,” a much denser, hotter-burning fuel that was valued for its use in making iron and steel. More than 120 of these ovens were in operation here in the late 1800s just below the railroad; this entire area, today, is on the National Historic Register.


Photo: Odinn Media


Lingerfelt was inspired by these stories, as well as those of the miners who are highlighted in

the Coal Miners Museum in nearby Whitwell. She used the oil lamp housed in the Grundy

County Historical Society building as her starting point for the design.


Manchester


Matt Willey's goal is to paint 50,000 bees–the signifier of a healthy hive—in cities across the world. And he's more than one-fifth of the way there. A few years back, Willey came to Manchester to paint his first Good of the Hive bees in Tennessee. His mural installation lives on the Little Duck River Greenway along with several other Manchester murals.


Photo: Odinn Media


Tullahoma


As part of a Tennessee Arts Commission grant, local nonprofit DMA-events curated a large-scale mural in Tullahoma to give visibility to the Coffee County Literacy Council. Nashville-based muralist Mobe created "Rainn," a depiction of his own son reading the children's favorite Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. The Literacy Council was founded in 1988 with the guiding purpose to provide education for those who don't have a high school diploma, as well as supply resources and materials like books to the schools in Coffee County and inmates of the county jail. The Book Shelf, upon which this mural was painted, is a secondhand bookstore in Tullahoma that funds these efforts.


Photo: Odinn Media


Nolensville


Williamson County is famously home to Franklin, but it's also populated by some charming smaller towns like Nolensville. On the side of the woman-owned coffee shop Mama's Java, artist Kim Radford painted a message of female empowerment for girls of all ages in her "This Girl Can!" mural.


Photo: Odinn Media



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