HAPA MURAL PROJECTS UNDERWAY IN AVENUES AND DOWNTOWN HATTIESBURG
“Public art is a community asset, and these murals are a huge part of that. They amplify engagement and pride while also harnessing the talent – young and seasoned – that abounds in our city. We are grateful for the vision of Becky Montague in creating HAPA, and I look forward to seeing that vision continue as more murals take shape throughout Hattiesburg,” Mayor Toby Barker said.
A program of VisitHATTIESBURG, HAPA began in 2014 through the leadership of community members and generous donors passionate about publicly sharing art and making it accessible to all. In the past five years, HAPA has purchased and placed art throughout the city – in parks, neighborhoods, public buildings, and businesses – while also raising awareness for works of art already in the area.
“Hattiesburg is a melting pot of creativity and home to thriving art communities at our high schools, universities, and numerous other creative groups. We join in the city’s enthusiasm to celebrate and grow our public art offerings,” said Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG. “Thanks to the longtime efforts of founding president Becky Montague, HAPA has a solid foundation to build upon and is committed to creating and sharing art’s contribution to the vibrancy of Hattiesburg.”
In the Avenues, HAPA worked with T-Bones Records & Café and Prince Sign Company to create a mural titled “Hattiesburg, the Birthplace of Rock & Roll” on the building’s façade. The artwork is a nod to Rock & Roll’s roots beginning in Hattiesburg, where the first riffs of the genre were recorded in July 1936, nearly two decades before it reached mainstream popularity. This historical recording by The Mississippi Jook Band is commemorated by an official Mississippi Blues Trail Marker. The new mural is expected to be a popular photo opportunity for music fans, visitors, and locals.
Titled “Wonderful Day”, the downtown mural is an inspirational piece highlighting a quote by author Maya Angelou. Located across from the Hattiesburg Public Library, the project includes the work of local high school students and is a first of its kind in the community. Art programs at Hattiesburg High School, Sacred Heart Catholic High School, and Presbyterian Christian High School answered HAPA’s call for assistance and selected students to collaborate on the mural. They will spend the next few weeks painting and learning tools of the trade. For their efforts, HAPA will make a donation to each art program at the completion of the project.
Ricardo Moody, art instructor at Presbyterian Christian School, designed the downtown mural and is overseeing student participation. A professional artist for nearly ten years, Moody spent several years in Colorado before coming to Mississippi. His work has also been commissioned in Colorado, Georgia, and Tennessee and can be found at numerous locations, including The Atlanta Belt Line, Denver Chalk Art Festival, and the Glass House Collective in Chattanooga.
“The creative nature of Hattiesburg is rooted in the arts, and murals have the power to ignite the wonder of imagination. We chose bright and vibrant colors to catch the attention of passersby and know the mural will be enjoyed by many for years to come. I look forward to working with the next generation of artists in these high school students from across the city,” Moody said.
Work on both projects is currently underway, and the public will be invited to the official reveals. Through these designs and others, HAPA will continue to beautify spaces for work and play, while inspiring community engagement and dialogue about the benefits of public art. Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art is made possible through the support of local organizations and individuals who believe in the importance of public art. For more information on the patrons and vision of HAPA, visit hattiesburgpublicart.com. More details on the Mississippi Blues Trail marker naming Hattiesburg home of the Roots of Rock & Roll can be found at http://msbluestrail.org/blues-trail-markers/hattiesburg.