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Dozens of Public Art Installations are Drawing People to this Mississippi Town

April 18, 2022

In Hattiesburg, Mississippi, art is everywhere.

It’s a mural of people walking through the town, a painting of a hummingbird, a sculpture in the park, and a design on a public utility box. This city of about 50,000 people has embraced public art, with at least 46 installations, mostly murals, making the streets brighter. Officials say they are beautifying Hattiesburg for residents and visitors, showing them this is a place they should want to be.

“If you make your residents happy, tourists will come and appreciate those things, but you’re not ostracizing your residents at that cost,” Shawn Harris, a board member with the Downtown Hattiesburg Association, told The Christian Science Monitor. “It’s really about community development and not economic development.”

The Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art was founded in 2014, and during the pandemic it commissioned more works of art than ever before, with about half created by local residents. They also developed the Hattiesburg Public Art Trail. Ricardo Moody, a local high school art teacher, has worked on several pieces of public art in the city, including a mural on the side of a building called “Wonderful Day.” Inspired by a Maya Angelou quote, he worked on the mural with several of his students, and they incorporated their school colors in the piece.

The plants and leaves he painted are about “growth,” Moody told the Monitor, and just like Hattiesburg, “as things grow, they mature and thrive.”