Today James is a very successful mural artist from Asheville with plans to move to San Diego soon to pursue his dreams. Before he leaves for the west coast he came back to Hickory to spend some time with his mom, and leave his mark on Exodus as they prepare to take the organization to the next level with a $1,057,000 capital campaign which is underway now. Part of the capital campaign project is the purchase of a 12,000 sq.ft building at 610 4th St. SW in Hickory where the organization plans to consolidate the management activities of Exodus Homes, their vocational training enterprises Exodus Works, and their thrift store. When they bought the building, they decided the 20ft x 40ft outside wall would be perfect for a mural to communicate their mission. “We knew long ago that James would be our mural artist because he is a part of the Exodus family,” said the Rev. Reggie Longcrier, executive director of Exodus Homes.
Exodus Homes and Exodus Works are primarily operated by the residents of the program in volunteer staff roles, and primarily funded with revenue generated by them in Exodus Works, as well as fees paid by those who work in outside employment. One recovering person helping another is at the core of their organizational values. The mural is built around a theme of “transformed people transforming people” with images that show a commitment to diversity and equality for all people. Smith created the original design, and has been working on the mural for a week. The mural is already blessing the community as people driving by slow down, honk their horns, and shout things like “Amazing!” and Beautiful!” He still has a few finishing touches to do, while also working on murals inside of the building where the thrift store will be located. “I have designed the murals inside to communicate the miracles of recovery such as joy, gratitude, peace, dignity, and victory. People will feel a part of our ministry when they enter, and leave with an uplifted spirit” he said.