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October 16, 2022

Letterspedia Official 

Hattiesburg city officials continue their march toward becoming “The City of 100 Murals,” with the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art recently unveiling their latest public artwork “Soar and Score” on Eagle Walk at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The mural, unveiled during an on-site press conference Oct. 14, was completed by Hattiesburg-based Aubri Sparkman. It features the letters “USM” in the foreground, combined with images such as a soccer player and members of the university marching band.

“Growing up in Hattiesburg, the University of Southern Miss and this campus were a big part of my life,” Sparkman said. “My mural ‘Soar and Score’ is a mix of gold, gray and black and white color that represents USM.

“This article is intended to focus on USM athletics, but also on the band and several iconic figures important to USM. It was such an amazing opportunity and I am so thankful to have been a part of it.”

Soar and Score is Hattiesburg’s 35th large-scale mural. With the addition of the new piece, Hattiesburg’s Public Art Trail now boasts more than 50 such works.

“We released the vision for 100 murals last summer, but to see how companies and organizations are taking on this story – like Southern Miss and IMG and the alumni association – we can also see how they’re taking it to the next generation shared so they can do their part to help us achieve that goal,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “A lot of really great things are happening today and we get to be a part of them and I’m so thankful for today.”

At 17, Sparkman is officially the youngest artist to complete a large-scale mural in Hattiesburg. She was selected for the project after HAPA officials issued an open call for artists in September.

“We had more than 20 applications from across the Southeast and she did a wonderful job with her Rising to the Top theme and really showed her inspiration for Southern Miss,” said Marlo Dorsey, Managing Director of Visit Hattiesburg oversees HAPA. “One of the most refreshing things we see through public art is activating public spaces to really transform something that we may not have looked at or taken a second look to really transform into a really beautiful and public space .

“We know we often lose many of our best and brightest in the state of Mississippi, and here in Hattiesburg … we know that (everyone here) is actively doing the things you can do to help create an amazing sense of.” Place for Hattiesburg that every generation can enjoy.”

Soar and Score is a collaborative effort with Learfield, the University of Southern Mississippi, Bok Homa Casino, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Southern Miss Athletics, Sherwin-Williams and the Southern Miss Alumni Association. Sherwin-Williams donated the paint to the project.

“I want to shout out to Mayor Toby Barker, who had this vision that Hattiesburg could be ‘The City of 100 Murals,’” said Joe Paul, interim president of Southern Miss. “We’re not quite halfway there yet, but we’ll get there. That vision…exemplifies what I call The Southern Miss Spirit, The Southern Miss Grit, what Toby makes The Hattiesburg Grit.

“And that means we’re passionate about bold goals – goals that others think we can’t even imagine. One hundred murals in Hattiesburg – a bold goal – but you add to it an unusual persistence in resilience. We don’t stop at the first ‘no’, we never give up, we never give up and we get things done and look for the next mountain to climb.”