ProjectsCommunity Based – Tender Mercies Mural (2011)

Jan used a community-based process to survey residents of Tender Mercies to discover subjects, details meaningful to their daily lives and the history of this organization that serves the formerly homeless who have suffered from mental illness. At the occasion of the renovation of the Dana Building to provide 41 new residential units, the history of that building included a devastating fire. The symbolism includes the Phoenix which rises back to life from ashes, the blossoming of each individual as they find safety, dignity and sustained care, and keys that represent the autonomy of private rooms.

The mural was constructed as appliques in studio while the building underwent renovation. In the week before dedication the walls were painted, appliques and name plates of donors to an endowment fund for operations of the agency.

  • Watercolor drawing for the mural

  • Frank, resident, and and Kani, volunteer, in the workshop

  • Kani Meyer, volunteer, assembles little figures and keys on the frame stretchers.

  • Andrea DiStaci, volunteer, collages images on the wings of the Phoenix.

  • Amanda Checco collages the Moon

  • Frank paints small figures for Dana windows.

  • Kani collages the Phoenix wings.

  • Layout of the applique pieces for preparation of installation. All elements were made in workshop while the Dana building was in construction for renovations. The mural was installed on the foyer wall in 5 days at the end of the project.

  • Layout of the applique pieces for preparation of installation.

  • “The Dana, The Phoenix and the Unfolding Soul” is a dimensional mural that was created in a community-based process that included Tender Mercies residents and volunteers.

  • The resting Phoenix represents the ressurection of the Dana Building following a fire that destroyed the one-time hotel.

  • A dimensional, photo-collaged garden base, flowers with key details which represent the individual security and privacy that is part of the Tender Mercies resident’s experience.

  • Hair detail with pipecleaners and dimensional sun

  • Detail of the Phoenix head with quilted, beaded crest

  • Phoenix and Unfolding Soul have a heart and light in the synapse of their interaction.

  • Rainbow light that eminates from the fingertips receiving the gift of heart from the Phoenix.

  • Detail of the center of the mural with the soft sculpture heart, phoenix crest and spiral “thought” of the Unfolding Soul.

  • The Dana and Flowers

  • The north light from the front window creates a clear picture of the colors and dimensionality of the mural. The shining disks and squares around the border are donor names who have supported the Tender Mercies endowment fund.

  • A volunteer to the workshop, Andrea DiStaci created this dimensional collaged sun for the sky.

  • A volunteer to the workshop, Amanda Checco created this dimensional collaged moon for the sky.

  • The face of the Unfolding Soul: her rainbow hair is animated by pipecleaners and her soft sculpture “thought” is red quilted fabric with beading.

  • To bring some interesting and whimsical relief to the hair of the Soul figure, we coiled up pipecleaners.

  • Residents and volunteers to the workshop modelled small figures with low fire clay to represent the residents of the Dana Building. They are painted with acrylics.

  • A low relief clay flower on a foam core window frame recreates the logo of Tender Mercies.

  • Images from National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines created detail for wings and tail of the phoenix.