Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art is pleased to announce its newest mural project, which features the work of internationally renowned street mural artist Kelsey Montague. Located in downtown Hattiesburg, the newest piece is a part of the worldwide #WhatLiftsYou collection and is the seventh mural to be unveiled by HAPA so far this year.
Hattiesburg’s #WhatLiftsYou mural is the first public art piece painted by Montague in Mississippi and is one stop in her latest U.S. road trip. This vibrant blue and white street art connects the city to more than 300 similar murals throughout the globe. The project, located on the West Pine Street parking garage, features dragonflies soaring up the structure. Now the tallest mural in Hattiesburg, #WhatLiftsYou was made possible in large part by the City of Hattiesburg and the philanthropy of locals Catherine and Chad Edmonson.
“HAPA brings artworks outside the traditional context of museums and into the open, turning spaces like this alley into really interesting, activated public spaces. We’re thrilled to have an internationally known artist of Montague’s stature creating work in the heart of Hattiesburg,” Catherine Edmonson said. “Every visit to this mural brings my kids alive. Their enthusiasm is contagious. Public art unites people by bringing everyone together to enjoy fresh air and art.”
Through their love of public art, the Edmonsons connected with Montague, who travels the world painting interactive street art murals meant to inspire and uplift viewers. Visitors are encouraged to become a part of the art and share their experience on social media. The #WhatLiftsYou mural series went viral six years ago when singer Taylor Swift shared Montague’s New York City black and white wings mural on Instagram.
“Mississippi is gorgeous, and the Hattiesburg community has been so lovely,” Montague said during her first visit to the state. “We’ve had a number of people stop by. You can feel how supportive the community is and what a great area this is. It means a lot to have my mural here, because I think it’s going to be a really good fit.”
HAPA has partnered with the City of Hattiesburg on several public art projects, highlighting the community as Mississippi’s creative hub. Many of the works unveiled this year were designed by Hattiesburg and Mississippi natives in support of the area’s diverse group of creatives.
“I want people to know they can find beauty and hope in the most unexpected of places. Particularly this year, it’s been hard to find that sense of confidence and certainty,” Mayor Toby Barker said. “However, it’s important for Hattiesburgers to know their community is passionate about amplifying local talent and bringing artists with the caliber of Kelsey Montague to the area. Exploring and discovering something new – to see our community afresh – is what’s going to get us through 2020 and beyond.”
The #WhatLiftsYou dragonfly project increases the number of public murals to 20 in Hattiesburg and is HAPA’s ninth mural commission. A program of Visit Hattiesburg, HAPA will continue to spread the message that Hattiesburg is an artfully open community for visitors to safely explore.
“We continue to work with partners to elevate our community’s outdoor spaces with uplifting messages and are grateful to both the Edmonsons and Mayor Barker for their vision on this project,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of Visit Hattiesburg, said. “Public art provides inspiration and a safe outlet for residents and visitors during the unprecedented global pandemic. This is one way we can do our part to ensure all guests can experience the joy of traveling to Hattiesburg while visiting Mississippi responsibly.”
The #WhatLiftsYou mural is surrounded by several other ongoing public art efforts. In addition to this piece in 2020, HAPA has also unveiled “Hattiesburg: The Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll” on the facade of T-bones Records & Cafe, “Wonderful Day” across from the Hattiesburg Public Library, “Let’s Go” at Sunflower grocery store, “Yellow Brick Road” in Hattiesburg’s new Community Art Center, “Suffrage” near the Thirsty Hippo, and “Hub City, Smile” on Mobile Street.
Several additional projects are currently being painted around Hattiesburg, with more planned for fall and winter 2020.
A program of Visit Hattiesburg, HAPA began in 2014 through the leadership of community members and generous donors passionate about publicly sharing art and making it accessible to all. In the past six 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.