Brandan Odums got caught spraying graffiti art in New Orleans

He thought he was in real trouble.It turns out that getting caught would be the thing that launched the next chapter

Photo by Patrick Melon, used with permission.

of his career.

Odums had begun creating graffiti art in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when the storm left thousands of homes ruined or abandoned. He and a group of other artists created paintings there that captured the pain, frustration, loss, and hope that the community was feeling.

It started out as a project, but as people stumbled upon the space and word began to spread, it quickly became a phenomenon.

"I had no idea that the response would be what it was," Odums says. "Before we knew it, the space had turned into an underground art experience."

Photo by Patrick Melon, used with permission.

It turned out that lots of other people identified with the feelings that the artists were capturing, too — including the landlord.

"The owner of the property walked in as I was painting," Odums says. Odums expected to get thrown out, but instead, the owner was actually impressed by what he saw — so much so that he handed over the keys to the space so that Odums and the other artists could set up a temporary art show, called "#ProjectBe." He then later helped Odums set up an exhibition in a more permanent space, which he called "#ExhibitBe."

People came from all over the city, state, and country to see the art that Odums and his colleagues were creating in New Orleans.

"It was an amazing experience, just seeing the power of art, alchemy transforming this negative into a positive," Odums says. Many of the people who came through used to live in one of the now abandoned places that were ruined by Katrina. Witnessing something so painful turned into something powerful, Odums says, is what the project is all about.

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