Healing Reflections mural depicts stories of the pandemic

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Healing, resilience, inclusion, hope. These are just some of the themes featured in a mobile mural. The mural pairs stories with artists to depict the challenges we’ve faced, and overcome, during the pandemic.

Healing together through art and shared stories. That’s the idea behind a mobile mural organized by the Healing Arts Committee at Mayo Clinic Health System in northwest Wisconsin.

“I hope when everything is done, you can look back at the mural and read the stories and see how we’ve come together and persevered as a community,” said Healing Reflections Mural Project Administrative Lead Sara Martinek.

The Healing Reflections mural focuses on the historic nature of 2020 and 2021. The project pairs community members with artists, including Tracy Kennedy. Kennedy is the Regional Chaplain for Mayo Clinic Health System and a self-taught artist. She heard three stories and combined all three into one panel of the mural.

“They all showed hope. They all showed resilience, and there was also an overall theme that we’re in this together,” said Kennedy.

Her first story interview was with a child worried about her dad going to work every day as a health care worker.

“She drew a hand of another hand and she wrote the simple words, hang on, I’ve got you. That became the muse or the genesis of my whole painting. I decided behind every mask is a story. So I used hers as the beginning of it, but each story was depicted in a mask, and in the mask is their story,” said Tracy Kennedy.

Currently, Mayo has 135 panels of artwork and UW-Eau Claire has 45 panels. Some panels have one story, others have multiple stories.

“Everyone was saying I have this story, but it’s not worth being told or it’s not worth doing a painting on. I would hear the stories, and I would think not only is it worth painting, it’s worth having everybody see it,” said Kennedy.

The mural is not currently open for public viewing, but you can read the stories behind the murals by clicking HERE. The plan is to have the mural rotate through Mayo sites and into the community this summer.

“Your individual experience and your reflections are validated, and they’re important. I hope everyone finds the healing in getting through this. What we’ve all been through and those healing moments,” said Sara Martinek.

Martinek is the administrative lead for the project. She says if you want to share your story or help depict the stories, the Healing Reflections mural is still looking for participants. If you’re interested, click HERE.

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