NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As Michelle Stokes walked her young granddaughter past the murals Sunday, she told the four-year-old, "These are historians."
"I'm telling her who Malcolm X was, Biggie Smalls we have here, we have Muhammad Ali, we have just everybody," says Stokes. "Just a bunch of different people who have made history and made it possible for us to be here."
Hundreds of people crowded Exhibit Be in Algiers Sunday, a day before the massive public art project closes.
Brandan "B-Mike" Odums originally thought this would be a one-day event when the gates to the abandoned apartment complex opened Nov 15.
More than 2,500 people showed up that first day to see the art and its message.
"This art is done from the perspective of social responsibility," says Odums. "It's done from the idea that, like one of my favorite quotes that says, 'A condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak,' so it would have been dishonest for us as artists to just come in and paint what we thought was pretty without allowing the suffering of what occurred to shine through what we did."
Odums doesn't know exactly what Exhibit Be will do next but he knows the impact of this project will last long after it closes. Pictures shared on social media are spreading around the world.
"We're just hoping that this has allowed people to see the potential in blighted spaces for one," Odums said. "We hope that it's allowed people to see the potential in street artists for two and we also hope that this has inspired people to think about what they can do, how they can create change in their community just by the smallest means."
Artist Soraya Jean-Louis McElroy wants people leave exhibit be with a new perspective.
"I hope that people understand that this was a place that people had families and had love and cooked together and experienced joy and that we're not stuck on this narrative that's about the hardship," she says. "That exist, right? That's real but there was also love and beauty and a community that was here."
Exhibit Be is located at 2300 Murl Street in Algiers.