The mural project at the Pocosin Arts Center in Columbia, NC is by far the hardest story for me to translate in one post. This mural never culminated into a final piece that tells the story of it's 2 1/2 month creation. Instead, the 34' wall kept reinventing itself, reflecting many different layers of community conversation. The wall was always available for new voices & new ideas and the only rule was that there were no rules. Scroll through the photos below to see how this mural unfolded.
It all started with a call from Marlene True, the executive director of the Pocosin Arts Center. She told me they had a 34' x 5.5' wall that would be perfect for a mural but there was a catch...they were not allowed to paint the wall and the work had to be temporary. What I didn't know at the time, was that this would be a blessing in disguise. The solution to creating a mural that would not be made out of paint and that would not disturb the original concrete was to create a large scale collage. Knowing that this would be an impermanent mural allowed for an amazing level of freedom. Before I invited to community to participate, I covered the wall in botanical drawings of native plants to the area. The Pocosin Arts is located on the Scuppernong River and I was taken with the diversity of plant life I had never seen before. Once the concrete was protected with my first layer, I enlarged some drawings I had done of the local wildlife. This would give the local kids a launching point for painting on top of the mural.
The first event where I was able to engage the local community was the Scuppernong River Festival. Knowing the concrete was officially protected, I mixed up a ton of paint, and was ready to meet the locals and encourage expression of any kind. Scroll through the photos below to see how this amazing weekend unfolded. I even had a visit from Miss North Carolina herself!
What I didn't know at the time was that the Scuppernong Riverfest was just the beginning. After such a fun weekend of expression and connection, the community was hooked. I could never have guessed all the different ways this mural would take shape over the next two months.
While the tearing down of the mural was an emotional process, it was also a time to reflect on just how many layers we added. And what was revealed to me as the mural came down, before it's final power washing, was a beauty that can only be captured over time. The pealing layers, with glimpses of earlier expressions, evoked a nostalgia for the poster wall I used to see growing up in NYC. I always had a deep emotional response to the faded layers below the new fresh postings because its richness could only be achieved through a passing of time.
This project opened up my mind to new possibilities within community and within my own work, all of which could not have been achieved without the following people:
A HUGE thank you to:
Marlene True, Joshua Craig, Stephanie Klausing, Samantha Clarke, Tina Lazzarine, Karen Clough, Greg Orloff, Jen Wells, Feather Phillips, to the many hands that helped shape this mural, and to the entire community of Columbia, NC for embracing & supporting this process.