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I can’t tell you how excited I was to be chosen for this project, and then again to be chosen to create an artwork for Mutual Ground, a domestic violence shelter and education non-profit located in my city of Aurora, IL. Dani Hollis, Executive Director of Water Street Studios, had an idea to have local artists collaborate with local non-profits to create awareness of their services in the community. This mural was created for Mutual Ground, funded by Batavia Woman’s Club, and hangs at Water Street Studios through a busy pedestrian walkway.

A Little About the Concept:

From Isolation to Community:

The ideas I talked about with Mutual Ground were going from isolation to community (isolation represented by the solitary house and community represented by the birds and butterflies) inspired by reading “Beth’s” story from their summer 2019 newsletter. Beth says “[Mutual Ground] was the best thing that has happened to me and my kids. I thought I was the only one, but I found out a lot of people go through this.”

Going From Darkness to Light & Symbols:

Mutual Ground talks about going from dark to light represented by a gradient in the background colors. The swallow is a symbol of hope, butterflies are a symbol of change and life. I put tears/raindrops coming from the closed blinds on the house windows. Purple is the color for domestic violence awareness so that color was included in the clouds and bird. Lace was included on the clouds and the on the bird to represent the behaviors that are passes down from generation to generation like grandma’s wedding dress or grandpa’s watch (some of the shapes on the feathers like hands on a watch).

The Phoenix:

Cynthia Kieckhefer, of Batavia Woman’s Club, when I was donating a piece for this year’s auction, told me about an organization that helps people with the legal aspects of leaving their homes and marriages. Their symbol is a phoenix, which I love, as a symbol of rebirth and renewal. The swallow/phoenix rises out of the fire, aware and healed now, and transforms their life and the lives of their children. I hope this mural inspires people to get the help they need to break the cycle.

Mural illustration art for domestic violence awareness
“Soar”, 2019, Domestic Violence Awareness Mural for Mutual Ground

Other Inspiration:

The art is also inspired by song lyrics by Brandi Carlile. Here are some of the lyrics:

I found myself an omen and I tattooed on a sign
I set my mind a wandering and I walk a broken line
You have a mind to keep me quiet
And although you can try,
Better men have hit their knees
And bigger men have died

I’m gonna raise, raise hell
There’s a story no one tells
You gotta raise, raise hell

The Process:

The original art was created by painting paper and cutting it into shapes. I also use my own photography and/or public domain found images printed on archival paper. Other materials I use are archival tissue paper and acid free metallic papers. The original art will hang in the offices of Mutual Ground. The mural was created by scanning the original art then printing it on aluminum panel. (Thanks to Fast Color Print in North Aurora for the excellent work on the print!)

Purchase a print here.

Thank you!

Thank you so much to Dani Hollis of Water Street Studios for dreaming up this project, Kathy Melone at Mutual Ground for being an excellent contact outthe creation of the original mixed media art for the mural, to Batavia Woman’s Club and The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley for sponsoring this project. Thanks to Joe at Fast Color Print for creating the great reproduction of the original art and print for the mural.

It is a privilege to share my artwork with you! These mixed media artworks and digitally altered prints take a lot of time and love, not to mention resources. If my art has sparked any feelings of happiness or joy, please consider making a monthly pledge. Anything from the cost of a cup of coffee to a new sketchbook helps so much. Your support is very important to me!

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