Not all African American culture in North Texas is on a stage or a museum wall. There’s a lot of DARTable public art – pieces that explore Black History-related themes. Some of it is even at the DART Rail stations themselves.
A 10-minute walk from Downtown Plano Station, at 12th Place and I Avenue, you’ll find the dramatic mural entitled Tracks of Our Past and Future. Artists Shug Jones and Lynne Chinn created the vivid tribute to the historically black Douglass Community that is adjacent to downtown Plano. The 75-foot-long mosaic commemorates Plano’s first Black residents, whose descendants still call Plano home. A walking path will connect the mural to the future 12th Street Station on the Silver and Red lines.
The 8th and Corinth Station is located on the edge of the oldest African American community in Dallas. Settled by freed slaves in the late 1880s, the neighborhood is part of the Tenth Street Historic District. Station pavers acknowledge the African heritage of many residents by featuring a geometric design based on the woven cloths of the Kente tribe.
Artist Johnice I. Parker used hand-painted and fired tiles on the station windscreens to create Images of Community Life, a series that illustrates the neighborhood’s deep roots in Dallas history, as well as its abiding focus on community, family, church, and education.
Emmanuel Gillespie’s work is at MLK Jr. Station and it uses symbols from African Kuba cloths on the pavers and columns. The artist joined the facility thematically to the adjacent J.B. Jackson, Jr. Transit Center – also named for a civil rights leader. Windscreens, featuring images from local photographer R.C. Hickman, showcase people and events of southern Dallas during the civil rights era. In contrast, columns with black and white tiles echo African design elements. Additionally, sculptor Steve Teeters created two 17-foot African talking drums. Historically, these drums helped carry stories and long-distance communication. As the station’s artwork conveys the theme of passing ideas from one generation to the next, it connects visitors to the ideas and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Karl Ciesluk’s sculpture at Forest Lane Station, Against the Mainstream, reflects a nearby, historically black neighborhood: Hamilton Park. The sculpture depicts fish swimming upstream, representing African Americans who spoke up for fair housing.
And at Hatcher Station, artist Vicki Meek used a community quilt motif to join the area’s past and present. In addition, pavers showcase the names of historic, black-owned businesses. Meek worked with art students to create a then-and-now portrait of the neighborhood.
Morrell Station is located in the Trinity Heights section of Oak Cliff, a primarily African American community with a large, growing Hispanic population. The station serves as a symbolic plaza with decorative columns extending into the community. Columns and pavers depict woven patterns, a direct reference to the station's tapestry theme.
Tyler/Vernon Station is in a predominately residential, culturally diverse neighborhood near the old Oak Cliff "downtown" – now a historic district with noteworthy architecture dating from the 1920s and 1930s. Artist Judith Inglesa's four-panel mural, A Community Honored, also features intricately designed details and embraces a broad concept of community highlighting the history as well as the culture and character of Oak Cliff neighborhood and residents.