Shreveport Park unveils new basketball court mural Oct. 30

A butterfly is a symbol of powerful transformation—of great change. It is a vibrantly colored butterfly and hands reaching in friendship across Valencia Park Recreation Center’s basketball court that local artists KaDavien Baylor and Ben Moss have created as a mural to engage the neighborhood in a new gathering space.  A collaboration of community leaders including Shreveport City Councilwoman LeVette Fuller, City of Shreveport’s Director for Community Development Bonnie Moore, Valencia neighborhood leaders Bessie Smith and Rachel Jackson, and Caddo Magnet High School Art teacher Curtis Bias and his students are supporting the project, agreeing that the Butterfly is the perfect symbol to illustrate transformation at the neighbors’ newly painted “ORIGIN COURT…Transformation Begins” mural.

“ORIGIN COURT…Transformation Begins” opens to the public with a blessing by neighborhood pastors Don Taylor of Stoner Hill Baptist Church and Quanerick Milton of Tabernacle Baptist Church Sat., Oct. 30, 10:00 a.m. at 1800 Viking Dr., Shreveport. Councilwoman Fuller and neighbors Bessie Smith and Rachel Jackson will make presentations, Chisa Bell will sing the “Star Spangled Banner,” Sher’Tavia Taylor and SherDiamond Mitchell are Praise Dancers, and DJ Thailand entertains.

“Valencia Park has a thriving basketball culture, complete with a community basketball tournament that happens alongside the Stoner Hill community reunion annually.  I’ve wanted to do a project like this for several years after being introduced to the Project Backboard initiative that revitalized outdoor courts with art and makes those courts into destinations.  This community deserves a safe, vibrant place for outdoor play, and I’m elated that the resources and talent converged at this moment in time so that this could happen,” says City Councilwoman LeVette Fuller.

ORIGIN COURT is a small organic initiative where communities come together to help grow safe spaces within the city. Councilwoman Fuller had heard of the Project Backboard initiative founded in 2014 by Daniel Peterson, a former Memphis Grizzlies communications team member, to turn urban basketball courts into Public Art. Fuller saw the hope for what transforming the Valencia Recreation Center & Basketball Court and other public spaces could do to meet our community’s needs and serve as beacons for attracting people and inspiring them to keep their neighborhoods clean. She organized people and organizations throughout the city to bring a project similar to Project Backboard to life in Shreveport.

“Valencia Park has a rich history in Shreveport and we were happy to partner with the Shreveport Regional Arts Council for this beautification project,” said Mayor Adrian Perkins. “This gives youth a positive outlet, new experiences and opportunities to grow and thrive. We hope this endeavor will inspire other communities to seek collaboration, so that they can do the same.” 

Shreveport artists KaDavien Baylor and Ben Moss were selected to oversee the ORIGIN COURT project and a panel of community members and artists selected the design.  Baylor and Moss worked together on the design for the court–one Black artist and one White artist, symbolizing the unity, diversity, and transformation that the panel hoped would permeate this project from start to finish.

“ORIGIN COURT’s design is really just a symbol for the good change we all want to see in Shreveport’s communities.  As reflected in the mural, we’re all reaching for positive transformation. With unity and mindful effort, we can achieve it,” says Moss. “The mural’s art was born from an intensely collaborative process and we hope that same energy of cooperation will animate every interaction on this site.  We also hope that this is the first of many community-forward art projects that will beautify and lift up our city.”

Baylor adds, “The artwork of ORIGIN COURT was inspired by the collective desire for positive change, growth, and love within Shreveport communities. We hope the artwork not only serves as a source of beautification, but also as a point of alteration of mood and a safe alternative for students after school.  We believe ORIGIN COURT is not only a place for neighborhood basketball, but an experience attracting many visitors to the park.”

Baylor and Moss collaborated to create the vibrant, transformational butterfly art, and students from Caddo Magnet High School, with instructor Curtis Bias, worked alongside Baylor and Moss to apply the chip and weather-resistant concrete stain to bring the unifying image to life.

“Caddo Magnet High Art students welcomed the opportunity to work alongside professional artists who taught them that they could earn a living being creative and making art. They also learned that they could make socially responsible art to impact and energize others,” says Bias. “ORIGIN COURT represents a gathering place that naturally brings people together at the confluence of art and sport to create connections and strengthen the bonds of friendship within the community.”

The mural project was made possible by a grant from the Community Development Department of the City of Shreveport.  Director, Bonnie Moore explains, “The Valencia Park ORIGIN COURT is an essential component in rejuvenating and enriching the Valencia Park community.  This masterpiece is an important addition to the community that will set the stage for future projects. This glorious beauty of art was designed to bring beauty and value to this community for future generations”.

Neighborhood leader, Rachel Jackson, who is organizing the Opening Blessing Ceremony with participation from Stoner Hill Pastors and Performers observes, “What we incorporate in our neighborhoods is the key to supporting our social well-being and community participation.  The “ORIGIN COURT” mural at the Valencia Basketball Court is one of the keys that beautifies our neighborhood and promotes a sense of unity.  The Mural describes the Stoner Hill community well: Together we make it happen!”

Shreveport Public Assembly and Recreation (SPAR) installed all new benches around the court and new goals. The project is also funded by the City of Shreveport through the Department of Community Development and facilitated by the Shreveport Regional Arts Council (SRAC).

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