By Scott Rutherford

rt can bring about change in the world, and “Shreveport is a blank canvas with a lot of people who need help,” says local artist KaDavien Baylor. The 29-year-old Shreveport native, who graduated from Southwood High School and Louisiana Tech, is heading up a team of artists working on the mural on the Marshall Street bridge. Baylor came to this project after gaining considerable experience working on public art projects in Houston and elsewhere in Texas, but he credits his start as an artist to the foundation he received right here.

While Baylor has always been drawn to art, his formation began at the Shreveport Regional Arts Council’s youth program through the Cultural Museum downtown and from summer camps run by the Norton Art Gallery. He also honed his craft through art classes at Caddo Middle Magnet and Southwood. When asked what inspired him, he replies easily, “The City of Shreveport,” adding, “My dream has always been to find a purpose in my art and to inspire others, to be able to create something that’s purposeful.”

That’s ultimately what led Baylor to seek approval to create the work we now see on the 26 columns of the bridge on I-20. “They were just pure concrete, gray and dusty,” said Baylor, who felt that the city could be better represented. “I want to speak to the positive identity of Shreveport. We have a welcoming identity for all kinds of people. We want to create a meditative experience at the gateway to downtown.”

The bridge mural, which has received support from the city, the parish, and the National Endowment of the Arts, is neither Baylor’s first nor will it be his last public artwork in Shreveport. He also oversaw work on the mural at the Valencia Park basketball court; next on the docket is a downtown mural titled “From Shreveport, with Love,” with artwork depicting local landmarks and cultural events displayed within the letters S-H-R-E-V-E-P-O-R-T. 

Butterflies factor heavily into the murals, in keeping with the theme “The Butterfly Transformation.” Baylor sees this as representative of the city’s beauty and potential. Recognizing both the beauty in our city here and now and its yet-to-be-realized potential, Baylor put it this way: “I want to remind people of the beauty of life. We’re trying to continue to make Shreveport more encouraging, so everyone here can feel the beauty of life.”