Fayetteville, N.C.-born, Atlanta-based artist Fabian Williams went hyper-local with his ode to Charlotte figure Dorothy Counts-Scoggins. Her famous walk to Harding High School in 1957 is one of the enduring images of the Civil Rights era, and today, she’s still helping to better public schools in Charlotte. Charlotteans today primarily know her as that brave child or as the beloved 77-year-old “Dot,” diligent and continuing the good work today. This painting by mural finds her in the center of that timeline, a reminder that she’s always been here for the community.
Williams worked in the advertising industry for 13 years, with a list of clientele that included HBO, Warner Bros., and Nike. However, he then moved into making personal work full-time “express more political and socially relevant contemporary themes.” This mural is an extension of that evolved practice.
As with other muralists taking part in the “14 Doors” project, his piece has an added, tech-driven component. UV paints make a black light useful to view hidden aspects of the portrait. Those symbols viewers see upon inspection at night are hieroglyphics, spelling out “Fabian Williams” and “Dorothy Counts” alongside each other. Even in the daytime, though, there’s a luminosity to this portrait of Counts-Scoggins. As soon as it was finished, photos of the mural quickly spread across social media and was acknowledged by city leaders.