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Mural reveal at Ruston's Greenwood Park on site of old Greenwood School

The North Central Louisiana Arts Council will celebrate the completion of the mural on Greenwood Park’s Blue Gym building on Thursday, December 8, from 4-5 p.m. Mural artists Vitus Shell and Drek Davis, members of the Black Creatives Circle of North Louisiana, will be there to discuss their work. The public is invited to attend the reception and ribbon cutting at the building, located at 1306 Cornell Street, and hear a special performance by the Grambling State University Choir.

Celebrating the community that surrounded the grounds where the former Greenwood school stood, the mural, East End: On the Shoulders of Giants, features images of Coach Wilbert Ellis and the original Zion Traveler Church and the first Greenwood School, which was a white frame structure. Conversations with community residents helped inspire the artists, thanks to work by project committee chair Erika McFarland and videographer Mike LeBlanc, and members DeVaria Ponton and Amy Stegall.

Shell, the project lead artist, currently is visiting professor of art at Louisiana Tech. He has a BFA from Memphis College of Art and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Mississippi in Oxford. He has exhibited at the Masur Museum of Art, Soo Visual Arts Center, Hilliard University Art Museum, The McKenna Museum of African American Art, painted a mural for the National Civil Rights Museum's NBA Pioneers exhibit and was commissioned for a public art piece by the Memphis Urban Art Commission. He states that his artwork “allows aspects of African American history to meet the complexities of African American culture in the present day.”

Collaborating on the project, Davis, the head of the Grambling State University Department of Visual and Performing Arts, has a BFA and an MFA from the University of Georgia in Athens. His art forms include collage, sculpture, and photography. Among his many achievements, Davis has exhibited at the Masur Museum of Art, Artspace in Shreveport, Lyndon House Arts Center in Athens, Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College and has permanently installed public art pieces, Above All Else painted on a Monroe city bus and Songs from the Silver Waters collaborative mural with Shell installed at the Monroe Civic Center.

The mural is part of NCLAC’s Lift Every Voice Initiative to acknowledge the contributions of Black members of our community and collaborate with unique voices to listen and learn from their experiences. Based on the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the initiative title also affirms NCLAC’s commitment to amplify the voices of Black creatives. The series featured the recent concert of Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience and a screening of the independent film A New Color.

This project was supported by a grant to NCLAC from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, as administered by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment of the Arts.