Hi, I'm back! Last June I headed home, to my beautiful birthplace of Tacoma, after a five month substitute teacher stint in Nome, Alaska. My Nome adventures culminated with a pause in a five year period of living and learning in several different cities, including, besides Nome, also Portland and Seattle.
So what adventures was I involved in between the summer of 2016 and now, summer of 2017?
Let me start with last summer. As I reached the ground in Seatac last June--after leaving the ground in Nome, AK--I, happily, had a project awaiting: I was chosen by the Cedar River Clinic (14th and Martin Luther King, Jr Way in Tacoma), through the Tacoma Murals Project, to design and complete a 16’ x 81’ mural on the exterior of their building. Out-of-my-skin excitement!!!
Cedar River Clinics offer woman-centered health care, along with LGBTQ care, and have a persistent weekly protester presence at their clinic creating neighborhood unease. Grateful for the Hilltop community’s patience, especially with the protesters, and the Hilltop's support, the clinic desired to show their appreciation through this mural.
After meeting with Cedar River Clinics, the Hilltop Business Association, the Hilltop Action Coalition, and surrounding businesses, 3 issues stood out: 1) the desire for more color in their community 2) more of the natural world represented and 3) organic shapes to soften the hard edge of urban structure.
Considering their collective thoughts regarding the mural site’s past, present and future, I designed a mural depicting colorful fabric flowing across the wall, past two sets of painted trompe l'oeil windows, breaking down the rigid lines of urban structure. Its twisting and turning bonds together the different “colors” of the Hilltop neighborhood, representing the LGBTQ community, different religions, ethnicity and gender, until eventually transforming into big, same color filled flowers.
Here is its development:
The different color options:
The final chosen design and color combination by Cedar River Clinics and the surrounding community:
The wall before painting. Photo by Teriscovkya Smith.
Jesse Peterson, my awesome assistant; he was terrific and so much fun! The Tacoma Murals Project assigned him to this project to gain his own experience of mural making.
A view of him, and also the wall after I sketched out the design, while I looked down from the scaffolding:
Scaffolding and the start of painting.
Friends visit. And pose.
Me, while painting. The mornings were cold as August and September advanced.
There are many treasured memories during my time painting this mural, wonderful friends that came to visit me and many friendships that were forged, but Henry's almost daily check-ins were golden. Here he is after giving me a hat on which he crocheted an added blue do-rag. It was even in the colors of the mural! So honored! From then on, that hat joined me on the scaffolding everyday. If you look closely, while in front of the mural, you might find his initials (HDW); I embedded them somewhere in the mural. Can you find them?
Jesse holding flags I made. One day a woman came dancing by and gave me these flags. They had a printed image I was not familiar with so I repainted them to look like my signature. They, along with Henry's hat, became our scaffolding mascots!
The final look!
Will write you with more very soon!