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KaDavien Baylor’s Larger-Than-Life Mural Messages

KaDavien Baylor’s Larger-Than-Life Mural Messages

KaDavien Baylor’s Larger-Than-Life Mural Messages

Photo by Robert Watt

KaDavien Baylor is best known as a public artist—a painter of large, brightly colored murals on Shreveport’s Valencia Park and Recreation Center’s Origin Court basketball court, along the brick wall of Galilee’s Stewart-Belle Stadium in the Allendale community, inside Linwood Public Charter School, and on a fence outside of popular Uptown Bar and Lounge, to name a few. Baylor makes creativity work for him—to make change, to create hope, to heal communities, and to encourage investment and ownership. He has people talking about murals throughout northwest Louisiana and what they can do to generate dialogue around a subject or community issue. His works inspire communities to create vibrant neighborhoods people want to visit, live in, and take care of, neighborhoods that bring people together to celebrate heritage and history.

Outdoor mural art was once considered counterculture and displayed on the societal margins, but in recent decades it has evolved many times over to become a form of public art that is openly acknowledged as a contribution to the success of cities and businesses. Baylor worked on murals in Houston and Miami, where he saw outdoor art shift the economies and attractions of the two cities, and where he observed residents witness and receive the benefits of the power of investment in the arts. He has come home to northwest Louisiana to use his art to strengthen the identity and character of the region’s communities, grow business, and promote cultural tourism and economic development strategies.

“I believe public art projects are particularly important for a city such as Shreveport because there are many communities within the city that could use spiritual boosting and encouragement. Public art has the power to do this while providing an awareness of investment and ownership for local citizens,” said Baylor. “Art in public spaces reflects and reveals our society, enhances meaning in our civic areas, and adds uniqueness to our communities. I have been honored to work on several projects that I believe have started transformation within our local communities. I hope to continue to work with public art that heals communities through the creation of landmarks.”

One of the groups Baylor spends much of his time and effort creating murals with is Setting Children on the Road to Excellence (SCORE), led by CEO Larry Wilson. This group believes students participating in the creation of public art can make a difference. They have created murals of hope using vibrant colors and transformative symbols at Booker T. Washington High School, Turner Elementary/Middle School, Linwood Public Charter School, and Green Oaks Performing Arts Academy.

Baylor often works with other northwest Louisiana artists to bring his designs to life. Baylor, who is Black, collaborated with Ben Moss, who is white, to paint Valencia Park Recreation Center’s basketball court in the Stoner Hill neighborhood with a colorful butterfly design and hands reaching across in friendship. The project was spearheaded by a collaboration of Shreveport community leaders, including Shreveport City Councilwoman LeVette Fuller, and supported and facilitated by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC). The artists and the art symbolize the unity, diversity, and transformation that permeated this public art project from start to finish. Valencia now has a safe, vibrant place for outdoor play and Stoner Hill has a symbol of hope and change.

The Shreveport Commission on Race and Cultural Diversity sponsored the mural at Galilee’s Stewart-Belle Stadium in the Allendale neighborhood, which was painted by Baylor and northwest Louisiana artists Eric Francis, Whitney Tates, and Katherine Owens. Civil rights icons including Reverend Harry Blake, Dr. C. O. Simpkins, Reverend E. Edward Jones Sr., and Maxine Sarpy appear on the brick wall, along with imagery related to the 1963 desecration of Little Union Baptist Church. Throughout the mural are crows representing oppression and butterflies representing metamorphosis. The mural ends with hope for unity.

Ever the dynamic visionary and catalyst for change, Baylor is currently excited about a project he presented as a participant of the 44th Shreveport Chamber of Commerce Greater Shreveport Leadership Class, a program designed to develop tomorrow’s community-minded business and civic leaders. The leadership class presented the City of Shreveport with a mural painted on the Marshall Street underpass—the gateway into downtown—that communicates transformation and growth to residents and visitors.

What’s next for KaDavien Baylor? Rest assured it will be transformational, probably painted on an outside wall, and will get people talking about what makes them proud of their history and gives them hope for the future. KaDavien said, “A mural telling my story would reflect my belief that God works through all of us, if we allow Him to. My mural would be a silhouette of a human figure with light shining through, to illuminate a globe representing a universal community of love painted in reds, purples, oranges, and yellows that would together provide a calm and powerful feeling.”