Mythology meets mausoleums on May 20 at “Arts at Oakland Presents: Persephone,” Historic Oakland Foundation’s third annual arts event, featuring the work of Sanithna Phansavanh.

The event will feature 10 life-size murals inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone installed throughout the cemetery. According to mythology, Hades, god of the underworld, kidnapped Persephone to be his queen. Once a year – in spring – Persephone was permitted to visit the land of the living, and upon her return flowers would bloom. When Persephone went back to Hades in autumn and winter, the flowers died.

“The hope is that these figures will serve as visual reminders of our own lifecycles and encourage reflection,” said Phansavanh. “As a metaphor, the tale of Persephone aptly illustrates the cyclical mechanics of life and death. Each season dependently moves into the next, always with the balance of life and death.”

Improvisational music and movement collective Flight of Swallows will provide musical and dance accompaniment to Phansavanh’s work throughout the evening, with seven performances at Oakland Cemetery’s North Public Grounds.

Gates open at 6 p.m. and the exhibition closes at 10 p.m. Tickets (on sale now at are $18 in advance (plus fees and taxes) and $25 at the gate. A $75 Patron Pass includes includes single admission, a limited-edition Persephone t-shirt, and access to an open bar and refreshments area. Attendees can also enjoy beer, wine, and soft drinks and fare from food trucks including: Low-co Motion, Atlanta Burger Truck, Genki Noodles & Sushi, and King of Pops.

Phansavanh’s work has exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally and ranges from small drawings to large-scale public murals. His public artwork in Atlanta includes installations for Art on the Beltline, Forward, Warrior!, City of Atlanta’s Elevate Arts, the Decatur Box Project, City of Atlanta’s Mural Bike Rack program, and more.

All proceeds from the event benefit HOF’s mission to preserve, restore, enhance, and share Oakland Cemetery.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.