“Preserving History” by Norma Clark and Devon Clarkson

“Preserving History” by Norma Clark and Devon Clarkson, 2020

The “Preserving History” mural by Norma Clark and Devon Clarkson is located behind Georgetown City Hall and adjacent to the African American Shotgun House. This mural is funded in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and represents a collaborative public art program involving the Georgetown Arts and Culture Program and the Georgetown Cultural Citizen Memorial Association, the nonprofit that manages the Shotgun House. For more information on the dedication, collaboration, and history behind the selection of the theme and artists for this mural, please click here.

Local artist Devon Clarkson created the “Mary Smith Bailey” portion of the mural.  Devon is a local professional portrait artist and the selected artist for the 20th Anniversary Red Poppy Festival poster.  His mural is a realistic representation of the local influential education advocate, Mary Smith Bailey, as well as local neighborhood churches and the original Marshall Carver School. Mary Smith Bailey was the founder of the first preschool for non-white children during the period of segregation. The school later became the Mary Bailey Head Start Center which is still in operation today and serves children of all backgrounds.

To view more of Devon Clarkson’s work, please click here.

Local artist and Southwestern University graduate Norma Clark created the “Shades of Progress” portion of the mural. Norma’s mural is represented with colorful, abstract imagery that is based on the people that live in the TRG (Track, Ridge and Grasshopper) neighborhood as well as people that attended the historic neighborhood school, Marshall Carver. The mural also reflects the community’s journey from segregation, integration, and changes to the neighborhood through urban renewal to the present day.

Norma Clark graduated from Southwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and received her Master of Fine Arts Degree from Vermont College of Norwich University. Norma is an abstract artist whose work is expressive, intuitive, and spontaneous. Process is a key part of her work and her objective is to create paintings that are visually engaging, contain ambiguities of space, color, form, and chaos. Her paintings are personal and are reflections of a range of internal emotions and complexities of life.

To view more of Norma Clark’s work, please click here.

Announcement from the archives….

The “Preserving History” mural by Devon Clarkson and Norma Clark will start to take form at the back of City Hall in late October 2019. Because the mural will also form a backdrop to the Historic African American Shotgun House, the Arts and Culture Board worked with the non-profit that operates the Shotgun House – Georgetown Cultural Citizen Memorial Association – to identify a theme that is important to the surrounding neighborhood and the constituents of the GCCMA. After reviewing several resources on the history of the neighborhood and meetings with GCCMA, a major theme that emerged was preserving history during a time of integration. While the major achievement of integration was the equality of access to services and educational opportunities to all groups of people in the community, another consideration was the importance of preserving history and culture during this period of major growth and change. When facilitating any growth and innovative changes within a community, such as the creation of public art murals and the construction of innovative programming spaces, it’s important to honor the culture and history of the area. The theme of integration can be applied to all scenarios that require a collaboration between different groups across generations and cultures: from integrating schools, to making way for rapid growth and development within a City, to the collaboration between artists of different levels of experience and styles.

Mary Smith Bailey was chosen as the subject of the “Preserving History” mural because she was an important local figure who helped steward many children in Georgetown through a period of historic growth and change. In 1953, Mary Bailey founded The West Side Kindergarten, the first preschool in the area to offer educational preschool services to non-white children. She believed that “preschool children benefit most from an educational environment that helps them develop self-confidence, the ability to get along with and help others, and the desire to learn. Today, hundreds of students and many changes later, the Mary Bailey [Head Start] Center continues to teach Georgetown children of all races the importance of learning”. (Histories of Pride, Thirteen Pioneers Who Shaped Georgetown’s African American Community)

Local portrait artist, Devon Clarkson, will paint the image of Mary Smith Bailey as the focal point of the mural. Devon’s experience includes local art exhibitions, as well as being the selected poster artist for the 20th Anniversary Red Poppy poster. Norma Clark, a local artist and graduate from Southwestern University, will create a montage of inspired abstract images that can be recognized as children and students participating in athletic and educational activities. Norma is an established professional artist whose experience includes numerous solo and group exhibitions across Central Texas. The collaboration of these two artists represents the integration of different artist styles to create something innovative and new while honoring and preserving culture and history.

On Thursday, October 24th, the Arts and Culture Board will host a community painting party for community members to come out and help paint portions of the mural.

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