Aaron Douglas Mural ProjectIn conjunction with the Aaron Douglas: African American Modernist exhibition, the Spencer Museum of Art commissioned an original public mural inspired by Aaron Douglas's vision and the interconnected history of other well-known African American artists with ties to Kansas. This community-based project, which was unveiled in September 2007, was directed by nationally recognized muralist Dave Loewenstein, who involved students and Lawrence citizens in designing and painting the mural.
The mural celebrates the important but often overlooked contributions of Kansas artists to one of our country's greatest art movements, the Harlem Renaissance. From left to right, the mural includes likenesses of Aaron Douglas (visual artist, born in Topeka), Gordon Parks (photographer, filmmaker, and musician born in Fort Scott), Langston Hughes (poet and author, grew up in Lawrence), Gwendolyn Brooks (poet, born in Topeka), Oscar Micheaux (filmmaker, grew up in Great Bend), Hattie McDaniel (actress, born in Wichita), and Coleman Hawkins (tenor-saxophone player, grew up in Topeka).
The mural also suggests a metaphorical relationship between the insects and birds that pollinate the flowers and crops of our region and the seven artists with Kansas roots who pollinated American culture when they moved to big cities and their talents blossomed. Locating the mural on this site, home of the Lawrence Saturday Farmers’ Market, inspired this connection.
Lead artist: Dave Loewenstein
Assistants: Yuri Zupancic and Jessica Molina
Mural design team: Jill Ensley, Whit Bones, Jordan Briceland, Anne Bruce, Christina Hoxie, Becky Mullins, Jeremy Rockwell, Amanda Schwegler, Tara Skaggs, and John Reeves
The Spencer Museum of Art extends special thanks to Aquila, the Lawrence Farmers’ Market Board of Directors, the City of Lawrence, the Lawrence Arts Commission, and the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, for making Pollinators a reality.