In 2012, the Salina Art Center commissioned Molly Dilworth for the Smoky Hill River Festival. They wanted her to paint Oakdale/Carver pool, a once black- only swimming pool during the time the city was segregated. The contrasting patterns in the pond make reference to the separation in cultures at the time of its use. The mural is 40 by 60 feet, making it visible by satellite.
Oakdale Pond was built in the 1920’s.
The once large, but now shallow, pond has since gone through several lives. It
was segregated and the Carver pool was opened in 1948 as a blacks-only public swimming
pool. Most recently it was an ice skating rink until the Salina Art Center decided
it needed a new life in honor of the Smoky Hill River Festival. This festival
is held annually is celebration of the arts and the surrounding community.
Molly Dilworth is a Brooklyn, New
York native. She is known for her site specific paintings not only in New York
City, but nationwide. She was a resident
artists at the Salina Arts Center when she was commissioned to paint the Oakdale/Carver
Pool. She uses research from a specific site to motivate her work. The history
of the pool inspired her to paint the two distinct patterns on the pool’s
The Oakland pool is painted in two
patterns. The pattern framing the pool is referenced from Pennsylvania Dutch barn decorations and English-Irish
quilt designs, this mimics the people who were allowed to swim in this
area. The inside pattern comes from Afro-Caribbean baskets, beadwork, and quilt
patterns. This pattern represents the African Americans of the community.
The creation of the Oakdale/Carver
Pool was a statement. Its transformation from a segregated pool to an art piece
symbolizes the communities transformation, too. The pool is 40 feet by 60 feet
in size making it visible on Google Maps. The Oakdale/Carver Pool is a visual statement
of the history of Salina, Kansas.