On June 6th, the Atlanta Youth Development Center in Fulton County became the latest juvenile detention facility in the country to participate and unveil a mural as part of the nationwide arts program called the “Emanuel Project”.

The Emanuel Project is a motivational arts program where youth in detention are given a hands-on opportunity to work with nationally renowned painter, sculptor, and muralist Emanuel Martinez as he paints a mural designed for the Atlanta YDC Campus.

The Emanuel Murals cross every cultural and language barrier every day to help DJJ reinforce a crucial message to our youth that this is an environment of hope, expectation and possibilities. The murals also tell our youth they can make the choice to take advantage of learning and recovery offered here and look toward a more promising future.

Artist Emanuel Martinez began his own artistic career at age thirteen as a youth-at-risk at the facility for juvenile offenders where he painted his first mural. Two years later, after being incarcerated three times and winning statewide art competitions, Martinez established his reputation as an exceptionally talented artist.

With help from artist Bill Longley, Emanuel re-enrolled and graduated from school, winning two art scholarships. By age twenty-two, Emanuel had worked with the most significant muralist in the world, David A. Siqueros, completing three art works now part of the permanent collection of the National Museum of American Art Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

As muralist, painter and sculptor, Emanuel occupies outstanding status among national and internationally known artists. Since establishing a studio in 1968, Martinez has received national acclaim as a forerunner of the contemporary mural movement in the U.S. He has received prestigious awards for his design capabilities and for engaging young people in art projects requiring high standards of workmanship.

Since the Emanuel Project began in January 2011, over twenty murals have been completed in juvenile detention centers in Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Colorado and Texas.

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice thanks Emanuel Martinez for his dedication and commitment to this project and for the legacy of possibilities and continuous learning his murals embody behind the scenes at DJJ for our Staff and students, and families and visitors for years to come.