Something new has arrived in Deep Ellum.
Vibrant banners on street poles pay tribute to the Black and female Texans who shaped the iconic area of Dallas stretching back to 1873.
Six local artists were tapped for the banner project called Deep Roots to celebrate both Black History Month and Women's History Month in March.
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Each banner pays tribute to a Black or female Texan who shaped the culture and vibe of Deep Ellum.
"The message is this art is to be seen through the lens of the artist and what they were able to convey in reaching into and researching the history of Deep Ellum and making sure we recognize that February is not just Black History Month, but Black history is very much significant in Dallas' history. and Deep Ellum being the first arts district and the oldest district in the city of Dallas is something we must celebrate," said Brandy Michele Adams, who curated the exhibit.
Adams is herself an artist and opened the We Are All Stars, WAAS, Gallery in South Dallas in 2011.
"I've come to these streets hoping to be part of this dialogue and when given the opportunity to really dig deep, I was brought to tears today because I have worked 10 years to see this type of work come to life. and now that it's here, up, present and to be celebrated. It's not even about me. It's about the artists," she said.
The Deep Ellum Foundation tapped Adams to curate the exhibit two weeks before Christmas. She quickly got to work finding the artists. The six selected to design the new streetlight poles are Jeremy Biggers, Ebony Lewis, JD Moore, Shamsy, Molly Sydnor, and Brooklynd Turner.
They each researched the history of Deep Ellum, then had four weeks to illustrate two original pieces of art before the six banners were printed and now hang on street poles from Good Latimer to Exposition on both Elm and Main Streets.
A banner designed by Jeremy Biggers highlights Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter. The Songwriters Hall of Fame describes him as "one of the most powerful figures in the early years of the American folk music movement."
The banner from artist JD Moore shows William Pittman, the first black architect in Dallas history, also the son-in-law to Booker T. Washington," Adams said.
The Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Dallas ISD produced legendary musician Erykah Badu. A banner from Turner depicting her is part of the Deep Roots project, too.
The banner from Lewis celebrates, "the duality of a woman's strength and the resilience of Deep Ellum in the 1800s," the artist says on her Instagram page.
Every week for six weeks, the Deep Ellum Foundation will share the stories of the artists and their work on its social media pages. Davis hopes North Texans pay attention and come to know and appreciate Deep Ellum's rich history and celebrate the local artists who stepped up to embrace the Deep Roots project.
"Asking these artists to dive deep into the enrichment of Deep Ellum from the 1800s to current day to show us what really was the essence of Deep Ellum," Adams said, "striving to show what Deep Ellum was and is striving to be and that is Black history and women also contributing to that history."