HAPA UNVEILS “NATURE’S WAY,” FINAL PROJECT OF 2022
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HATTIESBURG, MS (Dec. 21, 2022) – Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art (HAPA) unveiled its second in a series of large-scale art projects in the Hawkins neighborhood today. Titled “Nature’s Way”, this is HAPA’s final mural of the year and the eleventh to be completed as part of the HBURG Public Art Trail in 2022.
Located on the walkways of a bridge leading to Hawkins Elementary School, the mural was designed to serve as an inspiration to youth in the community, including the many students who cross the structure on their daily commute to class. The bridge project complements a nearby mural, “We are the Future”, completed by Miami artist Sergio Arce in April 2022.
“Nature’s Way” was primarily funded by HAPA and Ekklesia Hattiesburg in support of their Neighbors at Hawkins community program and ongoing investments in the neighborhood. The City of Hattiesburg provided additional support to the project.
“As Hattiesburg continues to grow as a top travel destination for art, we are very deliberate in our messaging and placement of public art for visitors,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director, said. “Our goal with this particular project is to attract children and the young at heart to enjoy these larger-than-life nature scenes while also beautifying our community’s corridors and neighborhoods.”
The original work by Gavin Bird of Jackson, Miss. is painted on six bridge panels, each measuring approximately 92 feet long by 2.5 feet tall. The design features wildlife, fauna, and flora native to the Pine Belt and its waterways. The bridge’s footpaths are also painted, creating both an educational and immersive experience.
“Children walking across this bridge will be surrounded by Mississippi nature that is attention-catching and uplifting,“ said Bird. “I hope it’s a fun, engaging way for them to learn about the diverse nature and wildlife that surrounds them.”
Bird was selected as the muralist for the project through a competitive call for artists and juried process. He has completed nearly 20 murals in the state, with this being his first in Hattiesburg.
“Ekklesia Hattiesburg is honored to play a role in the realization of another mural in the Hawkins neighborhood,“ Mike Dixon, Ekklesia pastor, said. “We believe this school deserves to have public art that outwardly displays the beauty that happens inside the school walls every day.”
This latest unveiling brings Hattiesburg’s total mural count to 41, as HAPA continues to work on the city’s mission of being home to 100 murals. Combined with permanent sculptures and painted utility boxes, the number of stops featured on the HBURG Public Art and Utility Box Trails now totals 100.
Additional public art projects are already being planned for 2023. To learn more about HAPA or for a map of existing public art in Hattiesburg, visit HAPA’s Facebook and Instagram pages or hburgart.com.
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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. HAPA continues to purchase and place art throughout the city – in parks, neighborhoods, public buildings, and businesses – while also raising awareness for works of art already in the area. The organization is partially funded by VisitHATTIESBURG, Mississippi Arts Commission grants, the City of Hattiesburg, and other local organizations and individuals who believe in the importance of public art.