HAPA UNVEILS NEW PUBLIC MURAL IN DOWNTOWN HATTIESBURGJune 19, 2020
HATTIESBURG, MS – Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art (HAPA) is pleased to announce its newest mural joining the growing public arts collection found around the community. Designed by artist Heidi Pitre, the mural is a nod to the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment protecting women’s constitutional right to vote.
Located in Downtown Hattiesburg on McLeod Street next to The Thirsty Hippo and near Hattiesburg Public Library, this newest unveiling marks the fourth mural commissioned by HAPA this year. Titled “Suffrage,” its larger-than-life design is both vibrant and patriotic, including an insignia officially honoring past and present female public office holders in the Greater Hattiesburg area.
HAPA worked with several public and private sector partners to help make this project possible. The piece and subject matter is expected to inspire many others, just as it did artist Heidi Pitre.
“One-hundred years ago in the United States, the 19th Amendment passed giving women the right to vote. With the Voting Rights Act of 1965, everyone was secured this privilege. Due to little or no support, let alone limited transportation, many women were not able to exercise this right. This painting is inspired by women and voting in the mid-60’s. By supporting and empowering each other, groups of women began setting up voting registration tables in places men did not frequent, such as grocery and department stores. Here, I portray a housewife innocently heading to the store with her grocery list in hand, but ready to change history by applying for her voter’s card,” Pitre said.
Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker believes this mural honors women in public office and also serves as a visual inspiration to young women today.
“Susan B. Anthony once stated that there will never be complete equality [for women] until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers. That story unfolds in many different directions all throughout our country; however, here in Hattiesburg, Mississippi – in Forrest County – that story began with Emma Watkins in the 1920s when she opened the door to show all what a vital role women can and do have in government. This mural honors her – and every woman who has followed. It stands for their legacies that have shaped who we are as a city, county and state. And as we continue to build Hattiesburg’s story, this mural also honors every little girl with a dream to do big things. Heidi’s work speaks for itself, and we’re honored to have her talent add to the story this wall will tell for decades to come,” Barker said.
Community members and businesses joined HAPA to provide generous support to the project. They include Chad and Catherine Edmonson, Firestone, John Lee, James Moore, and Taylor Rental, making this a true community project. The mural will be part of the public art collection highlighted by VisitHattiesburg to visitors in other states.
“We are thankful and inspired by artist Heidi Pitre as well as our project supporters for highlighting equality in voting while also honoring the leadership and deeds of women elected to public office. Hattiesburg is a diverse community of hardworking, dedicated citizens and, through public art projects such as these, we are able to further enhance our community and its offerings for both area residents and our many visitors,” Marlo Dorsey, VisitHattiesburg executive director, said.
Pitre is a native of New Orleans and former long-time Hattiesburg resident. This mural join two others she’s completed in Hattiesburg, with one located at Moore’s Bike Shop and the other on the façade of Grove Transit.
Earlier this year, HAPA unveiled three other murals along Hardy Street. Designed by Prince Sign Company, “Hattiesburg, the Birthplace of Rock & Roll” adorns the façade of T-Bones Records & Café. “Wonderful Day,” a downtown mural highlighting a quote by author Maya Angelou, is located across from the Hattiesburg Public Library. Just revealed in May, “Let it Go” by artist Spence Townsend is located in The Avenues at Sunflower grocery store.
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HAPA is a program of VisitHATTIESBURG, which began in 2014 through the leadership of dedicated 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. HAPA 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.