By IAN ROBINSON, The News-Star
RICHWOOD, La. (AP) — An artist group is working to give a facelift to a popular local recreation area.
Members of the Black Creative Circle of Northeast Louisiana are painting a mural on the basketball court in the Mary Francis Goins Park in Richwood. The mural’s design is abstract, with color splashes incorporating the colors of the Pan-African flag —red, black and green — and will feature shooting stars.
Brandon Virgil, board member of the Black Creative Circle, said the project’s main goal was to revitalize and bring life to the area, in hopes that it would bring a positive change and inspiration to one of the few remaining Black towns in Northeast Louisiana.
Virgil said the mural stemmed from a previous art project the Black Creative Circle completed in Richwood in 2020 spelling out the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” The project was designed to start discussions in the region about what Black people mean from the individual level to the roles they play in their communities.
“It was agreement with the Mayor (Gerald Brown) and the recreation director … that upon using their facility to host our event and to complete and do our project we would in return, for them in their vision, make the spot more appealing. They had a vision of that with the court and that’s when we came together and I came up with a design for it.”
Brown said it’s a blessing to work on something specific in the community: the basketball court, which was in disrepair.
“Several months ago, we took steps to renovate that court,” Brown said. “The concrete was jaggy and breaky, and just wasn’t really safe. We took the steps to resurface the court but along with resurfacing it, we thought it would be a great idea to paint the court and really give it some vibrant color. I’m not really a creative person and I need some creativity. Vitus (Shell) and the Creative Circle were the (people) I thought of.”
The mural is expected to be completed by June 18 to coincide with Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is the federal holiday commemorates the date when the last documented illegally detained slaves learned that they were free on June 19, 1865, roughly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
Members of the Black Creative Circle who are participating in the painting of the mural include Virgil, Shell, Rodrecas Davis, Haynes and Roxanne Santos. The group, whom Virgil describes as a “think tank” gives opportunities for Black artists to showcase their talents in Northeast Louisiana.
“Just help enhance the arts in the Black community and other resources that we have available to us that we can help,” Virgil said.
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