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Tylerites show up to celebrate a piece of art near Bergfeld Park following controversy

By Coshandra Dillard

Shronica Holmes, 35, showed up at the corner of College Avenue and Fourth Street Saturday afternoon to photograph young girls, and they had company.
Despite the rain, tens of people met there to celebrate black representation in art. On that corner is a depiction of “Hide and Seek,” a vibrant and colorful motif featuring a white boy and black girl on opposite sides of an electrical box.
It’s part of an effort to infuse art throughout the City of Tyler through the Beauty and the Box program, which allows local artists to create a design to be featured on traffic electrical boxes. So far, there are 10 wrapped boxes around the city.

Artist April Moore created the most talked about piece, which honors the innocent play between two children. It seemed appropriate enough, as it is near Bergfeld Park, a popular site for children’s activities. The side with the black girl’s image, playfully hiding behind her fingers, faced the home of a resident who complained.

“It just seems a little too modern for this neighborhood,” the resident told KETK last week.

Holmes, a Tyler native and photographer who now lives in Houston, took notice of the story about the complaints, which will lead to the eventual removal of the art.

The image of the girl — who is dark-skinned and shown with natural hair — was striking to Holmes.
“It frustrated me that we still have to go through something like this,” she said. “The little girl on the box reminds me of my niece, who’s six years old.”

Stephanie Franklin, managing director of Culture, Recreation and Tourism with the City of Tyler, said the “Hide and Seek” wrap will be moved to a box near The Children’s Park, on the corner of East Dobbs Street and Broadway Avenue.
“They have a home for it, which is good,” Holmes said.
The city is also considering placing these boxes in commercial areas only, since it may garner complaints by homeowners in residential areas.

Moore, who is championing the effort to have more art throughout the city, was disappointed that the piece, which had been there only three weeks, will be moved.

“I was so honored to get to do a box in the first place and then when I heard it was immediately being removed I was heart-broken,” Moore said. “So it was so cool to see how much people loved it.”

The photo opportunities was only supposed to be for family and friends, but as Holmes’ post about the complaint grew on Facebook, others decided to show up in support.

Holmes said the event on Saturday wasn’t to prove anything to residents there, but instead, give young people a chance to celebrate seeing themselves and being represented in city-approved art.

“It’s not a lesson for them,” Holmes said. “It’s strictly for the people who are showing up … I don’t want to focus on what’s wrong. They are what’s wrong. You can’t change a mindset like that. People don’t change people. It never occurred to me to prove something to them… I don’t want to give (the resident who complained) any more energy.”



Holmes said she wants the gathering to spur community building, not division. And people of different races and backgrounds did show up.

“I strongly believe in teaching what is right,” she said. “Lets work with what we have, build on strength instead of weaknesses.”

She added, “My hope is that I take a picture of little girls beside the box, and one day show that something good came from this. Who knows, one day it may be a common thing to see something like that in that area.”


The topic of the electrical box stirs a conversation about representation and acknowledging diversity. Those who support Holmes say it’s important for black children to see themselves in every facet of life. Saturday’s event was about more than the picture on a box.

It’s a subject that has been a focus of discussion for decades, particularly in recent years, as evidenced by the growing voices for Hollywood to reflect the diversity of its audiences.

Last week, PBS aired Africa’s Great Civilizations, a six-part series that explores 100,000 years of history on the African continent.

Among the breathtaking views of Africa, viewers got to see the origins of writing, civilizations, and yes, art.

In the series, Henry Louis Gates, Jr spoke with experts and scholars who referred to early African artists as “genius” and noted they made life-like sculptures in such as way that captured the human spirit.

Fast forward to Western civilization today, and much of that artistic genius has been erased. Students rarely learn about or see the art and culture of early Africans as well as modern-day achievements by African Americans in school or through texts on their own.

That erasure leaves black people feeling they have no representation. With no representation, it is assumed they had little or no contribution to society. Studies have shown that if not represented in art, in music, in printed images, and on film, it spurs stereotypes and can decrease self-esteem.


April Moore

April Moore

Moore was unable to attend the short event Saturday, but expressed gratitude late that evening for the outpouring of support for her work. 

She painted as a child, and is now the art director at The University of Texas at Tyler. She was able to use her painting skills to create the children through computer-generated tools she uses everyday at work. 
“It’s a new window that has recently opened for me with all the new touch screen technology,” Moore said. 
Moore was inspired to participate in the Beauty and the Box program because she wanted to be a part of changing the aesthetic of the city for the better. She said she’ like to seem more images of children of all colors playing hide and seek all over the city.
“It’s so cool to see the community stand up for art in our city, which is so lacking,” she said. 
The bright color scheme was intentional.
“I made the kids so colorful because I wanted to represent that we are all colors, the way God created us,” she said. “Also, I was creating street art and I wanted the box to be wrapped in color like so many murals are in large cities.”
Moore is happy the box will be placed in an area with more prominence. A lot of people can’t see the little girl now because of the one-way traffic, but that will change soon.
“She will face Broadway so everyone will get to see her and be in a place where she is appreciated by all,” Moore said. 
Like Holmes, Moore is pleased that the artwork has served its purpose — bringing people together.
“Our country is so divided at the moment and we don’t focus on the things that really matter,” Moore said. “Lots and lots of people just talking and talking trying to make a point. Let’s all look to the children and learn to play together.”




1 Comment on Tylerites show up to celebrate a piece of art near Bergfeld Park following controversy

  1. Art is good….but then, I’m prejudiced.


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