Travel & Leisure Magazine recently listed Hattiesburg, MS as one of the “must-see pieces of public art around the world.” The article, written by travel writer Patricia Doherty, included 11 international locations known for their prolific commitment to public art. The selections were based, in part, on a study of “Arty Areas” by the London-based company Money (bit.ly/3zoYFcx) and on social media presence.
“Street art has become widespread around the world, encouraged with festivals and in many places, promoted by local governments,” Doherty writes.
Hattiesburg is one such town that has benefited from local government’s support of public art. Mayor Toby Barker said that public art promotes both local economic development and social connection, especially during the pandemic when many indoor venues had to shut down. In 2021, he even went as far as setting the goal to make Hattiesburg the “City of 100 Murals.”
“To be one of four cities in North America included on a list that speaks about public art in places like New York City, Paris and Berlin is just a single example of the talent and creativity that exists right here in Hattiesburg,” Barker said. “Public Art is a rising star in our community, thanks to many who have gone before us and the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art’s steady leadership. We look forward to continuing our trajectory as a premier arts destination.”
With more than 40 public art installations, Hattiesburg has a variety of offerings for people of all ages and interests – from murals and sculptures to painted utility boxes and seasonal pop-up art that cover topics like music, civil rights, sports and the city’s history of rock & roll.
“Hattiesburg is committed to making art available to all its citizens,” Doherty writes.
In 2021, the Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art, which oversees public art projects for the city, completed four murals, 22 utility boxes, a pop-up art display and received a $11,000 Mississippi Arts Commission COVID Relief grant.
“HAPA is incredibly lucky to work with community partners and national and local artists to bring innovative, creative and diverse imagery to the city’s public spaces,” said Kristen Brock, Director of Programs and Promotions for VisitHATTIESBURG and Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art.
In 2022, HAPA’s first two projects will be the Jan. 10 unveiling of a new mural at Duncan Lake called “Duck, Duck, Goose” and phase three of the HBURG Utility Box series (artist applications due by 5 p.m. on Jan. 19 at site: bit.ly/3G03YSe). More information on upcoming events and projects is available at hburgart.com.