Over a blustery and cold November week in the Queen City, artist Evelyn Henson trekked to Camden Road, paintbrush and palette in frozen hand, day in and day out warming her frigid digits under a bathroom hand dryer in order to create what is quickly becoming a Charlotte icon: a 40-foot mural now known as the confetti hearts wall.
The mural began as a pipe dream. Henson owns and operates an online store that sells gifts and sundries inspired by her artwork. On the store’s website, she published a blog post surmising what she’d paint if she had a wall to muralize. The marketing team at Asana Partners, a Charlotte-based real estate investment company, discovered the post. They contacted Henson and offered their building’s wall as her canvas.
Henson seized the opportunity. She sketched a few concepts sparked by the phrase “throw kindness like confetti.” The finished design is as colorful as it is joyful. Brightly colored hearts, some of which contain the words “love others,” “do good,” and “be kind,” pepper what was once a drab wall in a dark alley. The mural challenges people to pause in the midst of their routines. It invites them to steal a moment to reflect, to appreciate, or simply to be present.
Creating the finished product involved not only shivering outside during an unusually cold winter, but also clambering up ladders, gridding and scaling, outlining, befriending a construction crew, and (finally) painting. To Henson and the pedestrians of Camden Road, the project was a success. “I set out to create something colorful that would inspire passerby to walk away happier and more filled with love and kindness,” says Henson.
From a young age, Henson experienced art’s ability to elevate the everyday and promote a higher quality of life. ”Growing up, I found art museums mesmerizing. I was always doodling, making cards, and doing every kind of craft from popsicle houses to decoupaging,” recalls Henson. What was at first a hobby grew into a passion and eventually became a business. “It started with an Etsy shop that I opened for fun after college. I thought it would just be a resume booster, but my job hunt (thankfully) went nowhere. And my Etsy shop slowly took off.” Now, Henson’s work can not only be found online but also in many department store chains, like Pier One, Pottery Barn, and TJ Maxx. “There’s something about painting that brings out my happiest, brightest self.”
Henson credits artists like Matisse, Rothko, and Dufy for their influence on her style. But she insists that her inspiration stems from imagining what the people she loves might like to receive as gifts. That, and color. “To quote Van Gogh,“ she says, “‘color in a painting is like enthusiasm in life.’ I find joy in color and that joy informs my work.”
Evelyn Henson hopes that her confetti hearts wall will pave the way for more public art in Charlotte. She therefore encourages Instagrammers who pose in front of the wall to use the hashtag #confettiheartswall. And she hopes that doing so will prompt other building owners to welcome similar projects in their spaces.