Brandan Odums’ murals are unusual because they tend to be off-limits to the public. One of the few muralists to reclaim dilapidated and abandoned building spaces as canvasses after Hurricane Katrina, Odums created a series of graffiti murals that aimed to inspire and provoke audiences. Although conscious of legal repercussions, Odums believed he had “a responsibility to influence people. If I see there’s a problem with a property that’s been sitting there for eight years, then I’m going to solve it within my own brain.”
Turning a site of neglect into a site of pride, Odums used the Florida Housing Development in the Ninth Ward as his canvas for #projectbe, filling it wall-to-wall with portraits and quotations from figures that include the antislavery leader Frederick Douglass, Huey P. Newton, Nina Simone and James Baldwin. His artwork was deemed illegal due to his trespassing on private property. It was only seen in person by handful of visitors.
After #projectbe ended, Odums embarked on a larger project at Degaulle Manor – a 360-unit apartment block. After speaking with the owner of the property, Odums was granted permission to temporarily use the building and invite the public. This project was called Exhibit BE. Around 35 street artists assisted and turned the abandoned building into one of the largest street exhibitions in the south, with 30,000 people visiting Exhibit BE in three months. The second mural of Douglass is from this exhibition.