Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art Completes 46th Mural, ‘Love Language’July 9, 2023
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The Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art – a program of Visit Hattiesburg – and the City of Hattiesburg are almost halfway to their goal of making the Hub City “The City of a Hundred Murals” with the recent unveiling of the city’s 46th mural, titled “Love Language.”
The mural, which was painted by local artist Thomas Jackson, was unveiled July 5 in the back alley of Hattiesburgers and Blues, off Mobile Street in downtown Hattiesburg. It was commissioned by officials from Art For All MS, which has the goal of enhancing the lives of those with developmental disabilities by increasing independence, integration and involvement through artistic outlets.
“The unexpected nature of not only where you find art, but who gets to participate and who gets to enjoy it, it’s just very rewarding as you walk around downtown,” Mayor Toby Barker said. “(That goes for) anywhere in our city, for that matter, where you walk around and suddenly see something that brightens your day or inspires you in some unique way.”
The mural spells out the word “love” in American Sign Language, designed to show that love is a universal language across individuals with all abilities. In addition, more than 15 students put their stamp beneath Jackson’s work, with designs such as swirls and hearts.
“I think it’s great that we have such a great mayor that has such a forward-thinking vision of seeing the beauty in this city, and how we can make it more beautify and make it more beautify for everyone,” Jackson said. “I’d also like to thank my wife, who helps me do all this stuff.
“Without her, I probably wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.”
“Love Language” was funded through the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities, courtesy of its Innovative Quality of Life grant.
“It’s just been since September that I’ve been doing this, and I can’t believe where we are today,” said Suzanne Lindsey, who serves as program director and teaching artist for Art For All MS. “Without that (grant) funding, this would not have been possible.
“That was my first grant, and I couldn’t believe I got it. I’m kind of excited to do more.”
The Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art was founded in 2014 by Becky Montague with the immediate goal of bringing public art to everyone in the Hattiesburg community, making it a free part of everyday life in the Hub City. Since then, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of individuals from several countries have experienced the city’s murals, sculptures and utility box art throughout its neighborhoods.
“When Suzanne and Art For All MS came to us and they said ‘we want to do a mural that wants to celebrate the abilities of everybody in our community and the different abilities that everybody has,’ we knew that the message that transcends everybody is a language of love,” said Kristen Brock, program director for Visit Hattiesburg and the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art. “That is how this mural (Love Language) came about.”
“Love Language” is part of HAPA’s Hattiesburg Public Art Trail, which is a socially-distanced activity for families, friends and travelers to explore. A brochure and map for the trail can be found online at www.hburgart.com.
“Altogether, we have 107 pieces of art currently in Hattiesburg for our residents and visitors to enjoy,” Brock said. “Whether it’s a 60-foot mural going down Hardy Street, or whether it’s biking on the Longleaf Trace and finding yourself in an underwater tunnel … it’s really our mission to make sure that art is in all of Hattiesburg for everyone in Hattiesburg.”