What happens when you set out to create a loving and inclusive work of art?
A great deal. People meet in a church basement, sharing snacks. People write their ideas on post its and others read them. People talk about the differences between words that are nouns, like “forgiveness” and words that are verbs, like “forgiving”. People discover shapes and symbols and reflect on their meaning. People talk about how colors make them feel and what their neighbors might think about colors being too bright or dark.
Kathy Creutzburg, the artist/ designer of the Hand in Hand mural took in all of this communication and convergence of ideas and interest in art and created a beautiful watercolor draft of the mural.
It all finally came together when we met to install the mural.
I was a little nervous. Would we have the volunteers that we needed? Was the heat going to crush us?
Then I met Ethan Sanchez, our intern, and Kathy Creutzburg at 10AM.
We got set up that first day and Janice Brown arrived, a good friend who’s just returned to Brooklyn and is an artist activist. We met Lourdes Zephier and her family the first day, by accident or miracle, depends what you want to call it. Kathy, our artist guide, Ethan, our intern, Janice and Lourdes became the creative, dedicated working force that would see this project through to completion.
As Kathy described the process to us, we would begin by installing the mosaic portion of the mural. After locating space in the church for storing materials and tools for the mural process, we started by cementing the tiles to the wall that became the trunk of “tree of life” symbol overshadowing about half of the wall. That first week was just about laying in this “trunk and branches” portion. We created the leaves in a workshop including church members, Sunday dinner guests, Lourdes, Brooklyn, Derek and Janice.
Lourdes is a total delight and her kids are among the sweetest I’ve ever met. I will never forget the sight of Brooklyn, age 7, totally absorbed by arranging and sorting tiles of different colors and shapes on the white table top. It was enchanting.
So much creativity and wonder has become part of the project. As Janice’s video documents, community members became part of the project as it grew from the mosaic, into a primed wall, into the sketching, and finally the painting of the mural. Every time I visited the artists, people gathered to talk about the mural, children asked us questions, mothers and young people and block residents expressed their interest and appreciation. Special thanks go to Renee Mason and Jonathan Lewis for their support and spirit.
Meanwhile, Georga Accola, co-sponsor of the project, was off on a long planned vacation in Europe, and I had a tooth extracted and proceeded to hit the road, for a long awaited Road Trip with a friend in California.
It was the power of artists Kathy Creutzburg, Janice Long and Lourdes Zephier that made this work a reality! Thank you!!!
Today, 8/21, Hannah Long-Higgins interviewed me about the mural project.
It was exciting to see the project take on yet another dimension. In addition to being appreciated and discussed by church members and the community, especially the block residents, other people who may not even live in Brooklyn will learn about the mural and its message.
This was an opportunity for me see the mural’s power and the power of art in a new way. Hannah Long-Higgins has been inspired to document this project. She is attracted to its beauty, its positive message, and its spiritual connection. She meets Lourdes Zephier and is inspired to share her story as an audio project for her class.
How many more spiritual connections will the project make? Already I see new friends in our congregation who have come to worship with us. What else is a possible result of this project?