You Are Beautiful
"You Are Beautiful" is a message spread internationally by way of painted graffiti, stickers, and other installations. In the Birmingham area it has been painted in several prominent locations by two anonymous artists.
According to a statement at you-are-beautiful.com, the purpose of the project is to make the world a better place by "creating moments of positive self realization".
The first widely-seen local installation was on the south side of the Highland Avenue overpass, seen from the northbound lanes of the Elton B. Stephens Expressway heading into Birmingham from over the mountain. The white lettering was applied with paint rollers in October 2010 and generated a great deal of reaction, much of it positive. A mention of the story was made on NPR's national "Morning Edition" program. Mayor William Bell applauded the spirit of the message and an official in his office suggested that it "should be replicated all over the city". Nevertheless, the Alabama Department of Transportation made plans to remove the graffiti when weather conditions permitted. Before they did so, the message was defaced on December 24 and buffed out with gray paint by city crews later the same day. The word "beautiful" was repainted, more clumsily, in red. The entire message was painted over on April 12, 2011.
Other unsanctioned installations include:
- A red cursive script version on the second floor of the Industrial Diesel & Hydraulic building on 2nd Avenue South at 20th Street, facing downtown. "...sike" was later added to the message by others, then removed. In January 2013 "beautiful" was painted over in green with the word "vile".
- A red and green block-letter version on the east (rear) side of the Interstate Batteries of Alabama building at 1409 1st Avenue South, facing the Shoe Factory Skate Slab.
- A white block-letter version was painted on the concrete retaining wall at Richard Arrington Jr Boulevard South, below Warwick Drive near the Vulcan Trail head at Vulcan Park. This piece was executed while the road was closed for icy conditions on January 10, 2011.
- On the south wall of the former Colonial Bank branch on 21st Street South near Magnolia Avenue.
- On a pedestrian walkway at UAB Green.
- On the flat roof of the Education Building at First United Methodist Church on 19th Street North, visible from upper floors of the Regions Harbert Plaza.
- On a retaining wall near the Birmingham Zoo.
- On the north side of the Jim Bennett Bridge in April, 2011.
- A white, block-letter version was painted on the parapet of the Highland Towers apartments in early September 2011. The perpetrators gained entry to the building by breaking into a stairwell, and paint was reported to have spilled onto private cars parked in the adjacent lot. The property owner hired Sunlight Building Services to remove the work at a cost of $4,000.
- Another white, block-letter version on the spandrels of the openings in the vacant brick building on the corner of 18th Street and 2nd Avenue South.
There have also been sanctioned displays, approved by property owners:
- A planned mural on the side of Monarch Cleaners at 903 Broadway Street in Homewood was the first piece executed with permission of the property owner. The half-completed work was ordered by the Homewood City Council to be repainted smaller, and the building's owner Mark DiChiara must apply for a special permit.
- As an addition to the Peanut Depot's hanging sign on Morris Avenue.
- As a window display in the Bromberg's building along 2nd Avenue North (designed by visual merchandiser Kathy D'Agostino).
- The phrase was translated into Spanish as "Somos Bellos" for an interior mural at Pinches Tacos at Hallman Hill in Homewood.
- Robinson, Carol (October 26, 2010) "Message on Birmingham overpass is clear but officials uncertain who put it there." Birmingham News
- Kelly, Mary Louise (October 27, 2010) "Overpass Message: You Are Beautiful" Morning Edition, National Public Radio
- Archibald, John (December 3, 2010) "You are beautiful, Birmingham." Birmingham News
- Archibald, John (December 10, 2010) "Birmingham's Beautiful movement gathers steam." Birmingham News
- Gray, Jeremy (December 21, 2010) ""You Are Beautiful" sign will be removed from Birmingham overpass." Birmingham News
- "The Artists behind the “You are Beautiful” Project talk with BirminghamMommy.com" (January 28, 2011) Birmingham Mommy
- Singleton, William C. III (February 7, 2011) "Homewood City Council to decide whether "You Are Beautiful" is art or subject to sign ordinance." Birmingham News
- Singleton, William C. III (February 15, 2011) "Homewood council OKs "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL" sign, with stipulations." Birmingham News
- "'You Are Beautiful' up on a rooftop." (February 22, 2011) Birmingham News
- "Homewood's U.S. 31 overpass beautified" (April 14, 2011) Birmingham News
- Gray, Jeremy (September 13, 2011) "Beautiful message creates not so beautiful clean up at Birmingham building." Birmingham News
- You Are Beautiful Birmingham on Facebook.com