Unity theme of latest Pine Bluff mural, 1 of 12 public art works for state

A team of young professionals and artists work on a Lakwena-inspired mural at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park basketball court. (Special to The Commercial)

Over the past three weeks, OZ Art professional artists have fanned out across Arkansas to bring everyday art and color to 12 separate landscapes. In Pine Bluff, the Martin Luther King Jr. Park basketball court's mural, part of the project, is scheduled to be completed by Tuesday.

London-based artist Lakwena Maciver is working on the mural in Pine Bluff, with its message of "Unite."

"It's about bringing art to the public," said Kristina Cupp, OZ communications director.

Cupp said, Maciver's work is primarily text-based and uses a combination of words, patterns and acid bright colors to create painted prayers and meditation.

Her work has been featured internationally.

"The basketball courts, a gathering place for people of all ages, will get a vibrant renovation in hopes to instill passion and unity within those who use the park and visit the surrounding area," she said.

The basketball court is located in the park at 629 Jaycee Drive.

"We love that murals bring art to everyone and we hope that these projects will inspire, spark conversation and promote civic unity," said project sponsor Olivia Walton.

She is working with Elizabeth Miller, OZ Art manager, on the project.

Beyond the Bluff

In addition to Pine Bluff, the organization is completing public art works in Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Fort Smith, Conway, Little Rock, Hot Springs and Stuttgart.

Other artists involved in this project include Nina Chanel Abney, Anne Vieux and Stephen Powers, Camille Walala, Robert Montgomery, Youri Cansell, Hilda Palafox, Alexis Diaz and others.

Each installation is unique to its space, Cupp said.

The "Public Art to Start" project in Pine Bluff is part of an initiative called ARkanvas and done in partnership with Justkids and Unexpected, and was funded by Steuart Walton and Tom and Olivia Walton in 2017, Cupp said.

Unexpected also partnered on this project and offers free and accessible art, education and programs to the state.

Justkids, an award-winning, multidisciplinary and women-led art organization, was the project's curator.

Olivia Walton said, "We wanted to do something to celebrate the arts, support artists and create some excitement in our communities during this incredibly challenging time."

For more information and to follow the artists' progress, go to www.Arkanvas.com.