(Opelousas, LA) – A traffic signal box featuring art by B.J. Smith located at the intersection of Union and Dunbar Streets in Opelousas was unveiled Thursday, August 6th. Boxed Art transforms ordinary metal traffic boxes into creative canvases for art that showcase the community’s character and culture and enliven public spaces. The project is one of the activities for the City’s 300-year celebration.
B.J.’s story started back in 2005 when at the young age of 15, he sustained a severe traumatic brain injury in an all-terrain vehicle crash. His hopes and dreams of a future in football were quickly erased by two weeks in a coma, a five-month hospital stay, multiple brain surgeries, seizures, and a stroke. He also lost sixty percent of his vision. Relearning to walk, talk, dress, and feed himself were critical to his survival and healing.
After 14 years post-injury and with the support of his mom, B.J. found a path to freedom and possibility through art. A place, where he says, “Colors listen and respond to the energy of the environment.” He and his mom, Kim, also formed Brain Art Alliance, an organization whose mission is to promote brain injury awareness through the healing power of art.
B.J.’s art has been described as appearing topographical or geological with some elements resembling biological cell structure. B.J. loves the movement and emotion of applying paint to canvas and describes it as a “pouring of consciousness where colors dance and speak.” B.J. is a 2019 graduate of Partners in Policymaking, a national leadership training program for people with developmental disabilities.
Led by the Opelousas 300 Commission, a total of ten boxes are targeted for the project. In January, the first traffic signal box wrap was unveiled at the intersection of Wallior and Vine and Landry Streets featuring art by local artist Jerome Ford. A second box, featuring art by Sue Boagni, was unveiled in June.
Funding for the project is made possible through a grant from Union Pacific Foundation. For more information about Boxed Art, contact email@example.com