Mayor Toby Barker and other officials from the City of Hattiesburg have long proclaimed their desire to make the Hub City the “City of a Hundred Murals.”
As of Nov. 19, that idea is one step closer to reality, with the unveiling of “Together as One,” the 13th mural to be commissioned by the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art in the past 20 months. The mural, which at more than 200 feet is HAPA’S largest to date, is the work of Miami-based artist Ivan Roque and spans the Stone Barefield Tunnel on the Longleaf Trace near the intersection of North 38th Avenue and West 4th Street.
“It’s truly been an honor to be able to come and create a mural for such a great city as Hattiesburg, and it’s also an honor for Hattiesburg to be my first-ever mural in Mississippi,” Roque said. “This piece right here, as I was creating it, I got to see first-hand what the essence of the mural really is about.
“I saw people from all nationalities, I saw people from all races, come together and use this tunnel, and become as family and friends, and rejoice. People that live nearby, people that live far away, they come, and we see that we’re all one in this journey that is life, and also progression.”
The mural, which is dedicated to the many visitors who enjoy the Longleaf Trace – which is considered the Gulf South’s premier recreational trail – highlights wildlife, flora and fauna native to the Pine Belt. That include such animals as the Gray Squirrel, Whitetail Deer, Northern Cardinal, Golden Eagle, Largemouth Bass and Flathead Catfish.
“We hope the vision of those that came before us really hint at the elements that we’re adding, and how we are trying to market Hattiesburg as an outdoor destination; we’re really proud of the work that we do,” said Marlo Dorsey, executive director of Visit Hattiesburg. “With that in mind, we really felt like the Longleaf Trace was a natural part for our next public art piece.
“The late Steve Irwin once said, ‘We don’t own planet Earth; we belong to it, and we must share it with our wildlife.’ So as a reminder of this, and the many species in the Pine Belt, ‘Together as One’ features the wildlife, the flora and the fauna that are native to the Trace in our region.”
The addition of “Together as One” brings the total number of murals in the city to 31.
“To bring someone of Ivan’s talent from Miami – to not only share his talent here, but also to continue to raise the level of excellence we have – it just shows that one success builds to another success,” Barker said. "So we’re excited about the future of public art, we’re excited about the future of the Longleaf Trace.
“It’s certainly something that’s nationally-known now, and I hope we can become national for our public art as well.”
The mural is made possible by the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art, the Longleaf Trace and the City of Hattiesburg.
“It truly has left a mark in me, and I hope this mural will forever leave a mark within the City of Hattiesburg,” Roque said. “I’m excited to see the murals as they keep coming in, and more and more people are making Hattiesburg a public art destination, and a focal point in the United States.”