The Story behind Drew Borders’ The Fates

According to Greek mythology, the three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Antropos, predetermine a person’s destiny, deciding the length of life and when it will come to an end. In her recent mural on the Ormewood Avenue Bridge of the Atlanta BeltLine Southside Trail, freelance animator and muralist, Drew Borders, takes a fresh spin on the mythos and blends it with her own, personal narrative.

Artist Drew Borders gives a talk under the Ormewood Avenue bridge, where she painted her new mural, The Fates. Photo: The Sintoses

Looming brightly and colorfully on the bridge’s full underside, the Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropo are portrayed as three Black women in different life stages—a child, a woman, and an elderly lady. Their eyes blaze with white and declare their omniscience. In her depiction of the Fates, Drew puts Black women, a historically marginalized group, in charge of the destinies of all. For once, they hold the power; their voices are final and cannot be overpowered.

On either side of the Ormewood Avenue Bridge can be found Greek-inspired interpretations of two powerful figures in the artist’s life: her grandmothers. Her paternal grandmother, Gloria Thomas Borders, was heavily invested in the League of Women Voters and served on campaigns for officials she believed would bring positive changes to her community, including the mayoral campaign for Maynard Jackson and Jim Maddox for city council. She was also known to go head-to-head with city hall, petitioning for improvements to neighborhoods in southwest Atlanta.

“In general, she was the force behind the family and fought hard for opportunities for her children and neighborhood,” shared Drew about her paternal grandmother. Surrounded by Athena’s Owl, a symbol of wisdom, on the eastern face of the mural, Drew portrays her grandmother handing off a book of knowledge to four hands, her children, while fighting with a spear and shield against a Phoenix, representing city hall. On the far end is Lady Justice, an emblem of her strong moral compass. “She had a fiery spirit and wouldn’t tolerate any disrespect to her family. And if someone needed help, she was often the first to lend a hand.”

The Fates by Drew Borders on the eastern side of Ormewood Bridge. Photo: John Becker.

On the western side of the bridge, Drew pays homage to her maternal grandmother, Lunette Wakefield. Forced to drop out of school around 9th grade to help with her family of sharecroppers, Lunette wanted all seven of her children get a good education and finish school. Creative, protective, opinionated—she encouraged confidence and independence in all of her kids, especially in her daughters. “She was incredibly protective of her kids and chewed anyone out who made them feel like their dreams weren’t possible,” Drew described.

With references to Greek gods known for their creativity, she depicts her grandmother holding the hammer of Hephaestus and, by shooting an arrow, like Apollo, she is opening the sky for her children to reach for the stars.

"The Fates" by Drew Borders on the Atlanta BeltLine Southside Trail bridge over Ormewood Avenue. Photo by John Becker.
The Fates by Drew Borders on the western side of Ormewood Bridge. Photo: John Becker.

Drew shared about her work during an artist talk on June 11 as part of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine. Following the talk was a Family Art Day, during which participants were invited to think about women who’ve inspired them and to write their name on a ribbon. The group then made their way up to the Southside Trail and tied the ribbons to the fence above the bridge—a symbol of legacy and honor for the powerful women who’ve come before us.

Community members honored women who’ve inspired them by leaving their names on ribbons tied on the Southside Trail. Photo: The Sintoses

To find out more about this mural or other artworks on the Atlanta BeltLine, go to: art.beltline.org.

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