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Hattiesburg’s Growing Public Art Includes Utility Boxes

The Hattiesburg Public Art Trail is rapidly growing and with the Utility Box Edition, it’s proving that public art isn’t just meant to blend into the background.

The trail now features original paintings on utility boxes located throughout the Hub City with three phases of the project recently unveiled by local and national artists. The artwork connects Hattiesburg’s neighborhoods, main thoroughfares, and several points of interest that make the city special.

Ricardo Moody, a local art teacher, is one of 32 artists who contributed to Hattiesburg’s public art portfolio. He has numerous works featured on both the original Hattiesburg Public Art Trail and now the Utility Box Edition.

“Public art is important for Hattiesburg because it highlights the vibrancy of our city and its people,” Moody said. “The pieces featured on the new trail have the ability to activate space, creating an inviting place where new interactions take place.”

The project has provided an opportunity for budding artists to gain valuable experience, grow their portfolios, and leave a permanent mark on Hattiesburg. Several college students including 17-year-old artist Aubri Sparkman participated in the utility box project.

“I really enjoyed when people passing by shared positive and encouraging words with me as I worked,” Sparkman said about her “All That Jazz” utility box creation. She was then selected by a Hattiesburg Alliance for Public Art to paint her first large-scale mural.

Gretchen McClure, 12, was the youngest artist selected with her design “Between The Pages” which illustrates the magic that can be found in a book.

“I’ve always loved to read books and I wanted to inspire other people to get lost in a great book,” McClure said. “I always feel like reading is an escape for me. Right before I did this, I did do the Midnight on Front Street poster and I won that. But I’ve never painted something this big though.”

So far there are 43 painted utility boxes around Hattiesburg and in early 2022, the Hub City was named a Top 11 must-see public art destination in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

“This additional component of our public art trail adds another layer of authenticity and diversity to our public art offerings,” said Marlo Dorsey, executive director of Visit Hattiesburg. “We greatly value our working relationships with the many talented artists that have been instrumental in Hattiesburg’s progression as a modern, creative hub.”

Click here for additional details about the Hattiesburg Public Art Trail: Utility Box Edition.

Photos are courtesy of the Hattiesburg Public Art Trail


Written by Cherie Ward

Cherie Ward is an award-winning Mississippi Gulf Coast journalist with decades of experience in writing and photography. She lives in Ocean Springs with her husband and has two adult children who also live on the Coast.

Connect with her by email at [email protected] with story ideas or find her @cherieward on Instagram. She would love to hear from you.


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