Barger Academy students, whose art is shown here, will help paint the murals for the Love.NotHate project.

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Love.NotHate: Project wants students and artists to create something positive for Chattanooga

If you go

› What: Fundraiser for Love.NotHate project

› Where: Barking Legs Theater, 1307 Dodds Ave.

› When: 1-4 p.m. today

› Information:

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If you want to donate to the Love.NotHate project, go to

Melissa Eaton was confused.

The violence over the summer in the U.S. alarmed her; there seemed no way to make sense of it. To have an outlet for her feelings, she turned to her artwork, creating "copious amounts of art in an attempt to make sense of all the violence," she says.

Watching her mother pile up the pieces, her 14-year-old daughter Arabella asked her what she was going to do with it.

Good question.

After thinking it over, Eaton decided to use it to make something "positive and tangible for the community."

"Plus, my actions and the results of those actions create a 'good energy' ripple effect," she adds. "Good energy flows outward and helps create other ripples of good energy."

To generate that flow, she and her daughter came up with the "Love.Not Hate" project, which uses local artists and students to paint mural panels. Partnering with local muralist Kevin Bate and Barger Academy Principal Greg Bagby, where the panels will be displayed, they hope to "communicate a message of unity, love, and community," Eaton says.

Bate says that, when Eaton contacted him about Love.NotHate, "it was almost that exact same week" that he had come up with an idea called Make Art Not Enemies whose purpose was virtually the same as Love.NotHate.

"For me, a lot of it was elections stuff but it was also because, every time you turned on the TV, someone else was shot," Bate says. "I thought, 'There had to be something else better than this to see."

When he heard about Love.NotHate, he thought, "That is awesome" and immediately signed up.

Today from 1-4 p.m. at Barking Legs Theater, there will be a fundraising that includes a silent auction of the donated works from local artists, plus music, food and dancing. The project also is trying to raise $5,000 through the crowdfunding site Causeway.

"I am a firm and sincere believer in helping communities be stronger through positive and unifying actions," Eaton says.

Contact Shawn Ryan at or 423-757-6327.