New digital exhibit 'Look at Them Look at Us' lights up Atlanta's art district

Renowned artist Genevieve Gaignard is part of "Look at Them Look at Us." (Courtesy of OBM)

Next time you walk or ride along Marietta Street, you’ll see a new, large-scale digital exhibition lighting up Atlanta’s arts district: “Look at Them Look at Us,” a digital billboard presented by Orange Barrel Media in partnership with artist Genevieve Gaignard.

The permanent digital installation rotates Gaignard’s photographs and those created by eight Atlanta-based artists. Gaignard joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom along with Pete Scantland, founder and CEO of Orange Barrel Media, and an Atlanta artist featured in the exhibition, photographer Natrice Miller

Interview highlights follow below:

On finding opportunities for art and beautifying public space:

“When we started working on this site, which is really prominent at the corner of Cone and Marietta Street, we thought of Genevieve’s work, ‘Look at Them Look at Us,’ which is a work that I’ve admired a while, and thought it was a perfect opportunity to make this at this really prominent location, on a parking garage that had actually been voted one of the ugliest parking garages in Atlanta, and turn it into something that’s not only beautiful, but something that causes people to stop, think a little bit deeper and engage with the artists that are on display now,” said Scantland.

How Gaignard’s display invites considerations on seeing and being seen:

“For the large-scale exhibition, I liked this series of portraits that I had done where I’m kind of playing with the gaze. The characters seem to be looking at each other, while one is actually looking out into the viewer’s eyes or into the world there. So it kind of lends the viewer to think about what that statement, ‘Look at them look at us,’ really implies,” said Gaignard.

“When we decided it would make more sense to present the platform for local Atlanta-based artists to be highlighted on this billboard, Karen Comer Lowe was reached out to, to be part of this experience, me not knowing a ton of artists from the area,” Gaignard explained. “The conversation … was more, ‘What do you feel would, as the artist, go well with this statement, look at them look at us?’ So you have all of these beautiful portraits with some collage moments. It feels like a really community-rich display of the people from Atlanta.”

Natrice Miller on her photograph “Homecoming”:

“‘Homecoming’ is a part of a larger series where I’m documenting the hairstyles of little Black girls when I’m out and about. It started a few years ago at a family reunion where I saw one of my little cousins, and she had the little bobbles in her hair, and it kind of took me back to my own childhood, and I took a photo,” said Miller. “From there, every time I would see a little girl when I was out and about, I would ask the parent if I could take a photo of her hairstyle.”

She went on, “It’s kind of a nostalgia thing because that’s how my hair looked as a little girl, just like the photo on ‘Homecoming.’ That was the length of my hair and everything. So it’s just a way to document these hairstyles, kind of an archival type of thing, but in the same breath, just using the camera to uplift these little girls in that moment. Every time I tell them I like their hair, they always smile, and they’re really excited to take a photo. So just with this particular series, I’ve learned that with photography it’s not always about the final image. Sometimes it’s the process.”

More on the photography and mixed media of Genevieve Gaignard can be found at Her collaboration with Atlanta artists and Orange Barrel Media, “Look at Them Look at Us,” can be seen at the corner of Marietta Street and Cone Street in Atlanta’s arts and entertainment district.