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How Starbucks is helping two South Carolina artists get international exposure

Creative Industries
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Two South Carolina artists are getting international attention because of a mural they created for a Columbia-area Starbucks.

Columbia-based muralist Lauren Andreu and Charleston artist Jared Owens collaborated on a mural, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses,” for the first Starbucks Community Store concept in Columbia, which opened in 2021.

The mural depicts three Columbia residents – two artists and a nurse – surrounded by photographs depicting local Black history and culture. It is displayed on one of the interior walls at the Starbucks located at 2509 Forest Drive.

The artwork is one of six featured in the current edition of “Starbucks Stories,” an online publication from the company that tells interesting and uplifting stories related to Starbucks worldwide. The artists’ mural is featured alongside others in Starbucks Community Stores in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; San Antonio, Tex.; Taiwan and South Korea.

Related content: New Starbucks store to focus on community

Andreu, a Columbia-based muralist, uses eye-catching colors to call attention to different parts of the story she is trying to tell.

Owens, based out of Charleston, is a South Carolina native who started his art while incarcerated in New Jersey, a time when he studied art magazines, books, and critics reviews in newspapers to inform his artistic style and craft, according to a published bio.

Launched in 2015, the Community Store Initiative is part of an overall commitment by Starbucks to focus on providing more opportunities for underserved populations around the country. The stores are Starbucks cafes that also directly benefit the community through education, workforce development and job creation. Each of the Community Stores also is designed to reflect the local culture through décor and artwork created by local artists.

Christina Lee Knauss is a contributing writer for SC Biz News.

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