Painting Memphis


Hutchison senior Zoe Zerwig Ford (‘23) worked towards achieving her Gold Award this fall as a She Leads Club girl scout. She Leads Clubs are a new girl scout troop structure that Hutchison piloted in first in the United States. Zoe founded the club in 2018 along with Faith Egedegbe. As a She Leads member, Zoe focused on service and leadership opportunities in her community, like helping the Memphis Chamber of Commerce start a Junior Ambassadors program. This fall Zoe used both her service and leadership skills while achieving her Gold Award. Zoe called her project Gold Girl Graphics and it consisted of conducting workshops, designing sessions with artists, researching data on women in the workplace issues, and ultimately painting a mural for the Memphis community.
For the mural piece of her project, Zoe collaborated with Paint Memphis, a non profit organization that works towards making Memphis neighborhoods look beautiful. Paint Memphis strives to bring the community together through murals and artistic endeavors where anyone can share their vision. By using social media and the public, Paint Memphis gives spotlights to selected artists to promote their work by painting large murals in a selected neighborhood. As their Youth Board member, Zoe got first hand experience in helping bring the community closer together through the Paint Memphis Festival 2022. Zoe helped Paint Memphis organized volunteers to prep and clean up mural locations in the Broad Avenue Arts District. Zoe was also selected as one of the mural artists allowed to paint a large 13 foot mural during the festival. Zoe and her Gold Girl Graphics team used pop art style to create a mural that brings awareness to the gender pay gap. The mural was painted on a large wall along Broad Avenue during the Paint Memphis Festival on October 8th, 2022. There was live music, food trucks, a children’s area, and a vendor area which was welcome to everyone to enjoy.
In September, with the help of volunteers, the organization began cleaning the mural locations by getting rid of the overgrown plants and weeds. Once that area was ready, the volunteers started painting the base coat for the buildings whose owners were allowing mural artists from across the country to create their masterpieces on for the festival. Over 40 girls helps Zoe and Paint Memphis prep for the festival. The Paint Memphis Festival in October 2022 was presented along Broad Avenue, Hollywood Street and Scott Street. Zoe explained that, “My mural in particular will hopefully affect the community in a way that will help bring light to the gender pay gap and to put it back on people’s radars. It is an issue that will never go away unless the individual and her allies take a stance”. Zoe hoped to bring awareness to the issue and encourage others to speak up, advocate, and educate others. Above her mural she included her website address.
This community mural project impacts the people in Memphis by raising awareness about the issue of gender pay gap. As Ford expressed, “At first, the pay gap issue [was] daunting to think about – it still is for me! – but change comes about one step at a time, one voice at a time, and it is never too late to speak up”. Therefore, Zoe and Paint Memphis encouraged the Memphis community of all ages to stand up and show up to contribute to “painting” Memphis.