Basketball Court Murals Spark Innovation and Community Pride

August 5, 2021  |   Feature,   Initiatives,   Local
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Des Moines, IA — Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation (PAF) is pleased to present “SWISH” — a public art project that commissions accomplished, qualified artists to transform basketball courts with remarkable, mural-style designs. The process emphasizes neighborhood collaborations in ethnically diverse and low-income areas.

“It is an effort to revitalize public spaces, integrating public art into neighborhoods where there is often little or none,” said Jessica Rowe, PAF director. “SWISH” basketball courts are canvases for creative expression that strengthen communities, inspire multi-generational play, and healthier public spaces.”

Most recently, Jordan Weber was commissioned by the PAF to create murals on two basketball courts in Des Moines’ Oakridge Neighborhood, an urban public housing and human services agency.  With a support team of artists and community members, Weber has transformed the first basketball court into a design embodying the dreams and potential of a 14-year-old Oakridge resident Yore Jieng, whose senseless death was caused by a stray gunshot while sitting in the passenger seat of a car with his family.

The artist’s team paint a portrait of Yore Jieng on the central basketball court in Oakridge Neighborhood.

“SWISH” is funded through the PAF Director’s Discretionary Fund, a GC20 Capital Project grant from Bravo Greater Des Moines, and Knapp Properties LC. The basketball courts were engineered and repaired with sponsorship from Oakridge Neighborhood.

Artists Jordan Weber (left) and Jill Wells review paint colors for mural. 


Jordan J. Weber is a Des Moines-based multi-disciplinary artist and environmental activist who works predominantly with inner-city communities nationwide, with a focus on the Midwest.  His work, at the cross section of social justice and environmental racism, has been exhibited at White Box, New York; Union for Contemporary Art, Omaha; Intersect Art Center, St. Louis; Des Moines Art Center; Macalister College, Twin Cities, Smack Mellon, New York; Manifest Justice, Los Angeles; Charlotte Street Foundation; Kansas City; Open Engagement, Chicago. Weber is best known for his deconstructed police vehicles turned community gardens/workout equipment, and recontextualized abandoned structures. Awards and fellowships include Harvard LOEB finalist, A Blade of Grass fellowship NYC, Tanne Foundation fellow, Des Moines Public Art Foundation fellow, and African American Leadership Fellow. He is currently the 2020 artist in residence at the Walker Art Center.  For more information visit Jordan J. Weber.



The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation, established in 2004, recognizes that art belongs not just in galleries and museums, but also in streetscapes, parks, buildings and infrastructures of a thriving community. Dedicated to envisioning, developing, advancing and promoting public art projects, the Public Art Foundation collaborates with local entities and artists to engage, inspire and enrich the lives of residents and visitors to the community. In June 2019, a major public art project commissioned by the Public Art Foundation, “A Monumental Journey” by celebrated artist Kerry James Marshall, was recognized as one of the 50 Best Public Art Projects in North America by The Americans for the Arts. For more information visit Public Art Foundation.  Or socialize with us on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram at @DSMPublicArt. #DSMPublicArt



Oakridge Neighborhood is a nonprofit housing and human services agency located on 17 acres in Des Moines’ urban core.  It has served the communities’ most vulnerable children and families since 1969.  Oakridge Neighborhood’s mission is to create pathways to success for adults, children and families by providing exceptional housing combined with comprehensive education programs and employment services.  With its 300 units, Oakridge is Iowa’s oldest and largest project based Section 8 housing organization. The campus includes Silver Oaks, which offers 39 senior living apartment homes. It is also one of the most globally diverse neighborhoods in Iowa — Oakridge is home to nearly 1,200 individuals, representing 23 countries who speak 29 languages, and 66% of the community is refugees and immigrants.  For more information visit Oakridge.