Rory Hawkins, the Atlanta artist known as “Catlanta,” created a piece of art inspired by the I-85 bridge collapse.
Photo: Catlanta Facebook
Photo: Catlanta Facebook

Catlanta sells I-85 ‘bridge kitten’ shirts, donates money to homeless

Two things happened just over a month ago. 

The first was that part of I-85 caught fire and collapsed.  

The second was that Atlanta artist “Catlanta” created a lighthearted piece of wooden art depicting a smiling cat acting as a bridge on the highway, allowing cars to make it safely across the gap. Pictures of it posted to social media got a strong reaction, with several people calling for the image to be put on a T-shirt. 

And now the man behind the art, Rory Hawkins, is doing just that. 

MORE: Twitter memes tackle Atlanta traffic and I-85 collapse

MORE: Another I-85 bridge under construction; this one's made of Legos

In mid-April, Hawkins announced a presale for shirts emblazoned with that image and the words, “Hang in there, Catlanta.” He received about 300 orders in 24 hours.   

Hawkins decided to donate 20 percent off the proceeds to Santa Fe Villas, a redeveloped apartment complex that provides permanent supportive housing for the homeless. The presale raised $850 for the organization, and a small second batch — which Hawkins expects to be for sale online later this week — will also benefit the cause. 

The collapse “highlighted some major issues we have in Atlanta that need addressing as we continue to expand,” a Catlanta Facebook post about the shirts said. 

MORE: Popular artist fighting DeKalb over ‘illegal’ yard art

A homeless man is accused of starting the fire, and defense attorneys and activists have claimed authorities are using a him as a “scapegoat” to draw attention away from mistakes the government made that contributed to the collapse.

The artist gave away the original piece of art for free as part of “Free Art Friday,” an ongoing art scavenger hunt driven through the Instagram hashtag #fafatl.

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GDOT is resurfacing several lanes now to avoid closing extra lanes when the bridge is completed, which would cause more traffic.

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