Here In Spirit: Artist Anna Murphy unveils mural of Princess Hoka

Published 12:53 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022

If you park in the City of Oxford’s Parking Garage on Jefferson Avenue, from now on you will come face to face with the visage of Princess Hoka in blue and white staring back at you.

After about five weeks of painting, Chicago artist Anna Murphy unveiled the mural of Princess Hoka titled, “Here In Spirit,” to the public during a ribbon-cutting event. 

The 1,600 square foot project on the back wall of Oxford Square North Plaza began in early March and was completed the piece in five-and-a-half weeks with the assistance of her mother and fellow artist Paula Murphy.

Despite the constant rain and severe weather, Murphy managed to complete the art piece ahead of schedule by about a week.

“It’s gone by very quickly, but I’m really happy with how it turned out,” Murphy said.

Local artist and mural project manager Earl Dismuke said he is excited about the installation. According to him, the addition of “Here In Spirt,” increases the presence of public art in Oxford.

“We have a whole generation of kids like mine who are going to grow up around public art and know the value of it,” said Dismuke.

To Dismuke, public art is a “great equalizer.” It’s accessible to everyone and anybody can feel free to enjoy it.

“It helps level the playing field,” he said. “People who don’t feel comfortable going to a museum can come by and be inspired by artwork like this in their daily life. It creates a dialogue that would normally not be there.”

The mural was commissioned by local business owner Helen Overstreet of Mike Overstreet Properties, LLC. to commemorate the Chickasaw maiden who owned the land now known as Oxford.

“I feel like it started so long ago with my daughter and I talking about honoring Princess Hoka who we had always been enthralled with and with the story and the mystery behind how Oxford got started,” said Overstreet.

Chickasaw Nations’ Division of Heritage Preservation Director Shelby Banko thanked Overstreet and Murphy on behalf of the Chickasaw nations for their work in recognizing Chickasaw history.

“This project is a step in honoring our Chickasaw ancestors and recognition of the resilient spirit of the Chickasaw people that remains to this day,” she said.

Murphy worked closely with members of the Chickasaw Nation to ensure the accuracy of the design, including the jewelry and clothing depicted. According to the artist, there were no actual photos of Princess Hoka so a composite was created from photos of modern-day Chickasaw women.

Princess Hoka was painted in Murphy’s signature blue and white, resembling porcelain china, with a gold background and surrounded by native Mississippian wildlife like the white-tailed dear, the Mississippi Red Wolf, the Indica Azalea and snakeroot and the state’s iconic Southern magnolias.

“My hope for the mural is that it brings joy and inspiration to everyone that sees it and that inspires us to honor,” said Murphy. “Not only the people that came before us, but to live inspired and in harmony with Mother Earth knowing her infinite wisdom lives in all of us.”

To see more of Anna Murphy’s work, visit www.annapmurphy.com or @annapmurphy on Instagram.