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Meet the artists of the new Hyattsville Branch Library

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Posted on: August 16, 2021

By Jordan Williams

Expected to open by the end of the year, the rebuilt Hyattsville Branch Library on Adelphi Road will feature two new art pieces. One presents a hyperlocal history, while the other gives a colorful and mysterious view of outer space.

Just outside the main entrance, a galaxy-themed mosaic will stretch beneath the sculpture of a flying saucer, a sculpture which was salvaged from the old building after local activists petitioned to save it. Once inside the building, visitors will be greeted by a mixed-media mural on the history of Hyattsville titled, Hyattsville: Connecting the Faces of History.

The Hyattsville Life & Times interviewed the artists behind these pieces; Valerie Theberge from Mount Rainier and Curtis Woody from Upper Marlboro.

The artist, her dog, and nine planet seats. Courtesy of Valerie Theberge

Valerie Theberge

Theberge’s galaxy mural will be on the floor beneath the flying saucer outside the main entrance. Spherical planetary sculptures will be scattered around the galaxy floor. Coated in brightly colored mosaic tiles, these also serve as seating. “I want people to feel uplifted when they see my art,” said Theberge.

Theberge has contributed several public art pieces across the county. When asked about her proudest works, she mentioned two. A mural at the Prince George’s County Correctional Facility, entitled ‘Transformation,’ depicts the transformation of the Anacostia river into a cleaner and safer ecosystem for the fish that inhabit it. The second is here in Hyattsville; the shad fish mural at Melrose Skate Park, depicting fish leaping in and out of a breaking wave. You can find more of Theberge’s work on her Instagram page, @valerie_theberge.

A detail of Curtis Woody’s mural, showing Christopher Clark Hyatt and modern residents. Courtesy of Curtis Woody.

Curtis Woody

Woody’s mixed-media mural is 8 by 20 feet on the wall inside the library’s main entrance. Woody said that he intended the mural to visually and emotionally capture the history of Hyattsville, from its founding to what it is today. Woody took historical photos of old buildings and people going about their daily lives and merged them with modern photographs in order to show the city’s growth over time. “The subject/theme will range from Hyattsville‘s founding to the vibrant and diverse community it is today,” said Woody. His mural includes images of the original Hyattsville Police Department and Fire Department, old local businesses, and the founder of Hyattsville, Christopher Clarke Hyatt.

Woody has a 40-year long career making art for Prince George’s County. He says he is most proud of a piece at the African American Museum and Culture Center in North Brentwood titledStruggle for Dignity, An Artistic Exploration of Slavery and Emancipation,’ which focuses on the history of slavery in the Prince George’s County. You can find more of Woody’s work at his Zenith Art Gallery page.

The library is scheduled to open by the end of the year, while the temporary branch at University Town Center has been closed for the transition since the beginning of the summer. 

The Hyattsville Wire released an exclusive sneak-peak of the new library. The building will feature new services including a fairy tale-themed children’s play area, an outdoor terrace with a hands-on environmental learning station, a computer lab with a public-use 3-D printing station, and a café.

Stay tuned in the coming months for more information on the library’s reopening.

Library on August 16. Jordan Williams

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