Project: Neighborhood Mural Project
Location: Marshalltown, IA – USA. 2023
Commissioner: Arts + Culture Alliance of Marshall County

Concept: I was commissioned to create four murals, located in underserved neighborhoods of Marshalltown, capturing the unique experiences and dreams of its residents.

The community input highlighted the community’s cultural diversity, which serves as a central theme throughout the project. The community’s input directed the murals to depict the history of the community, the diversity of its people, the resiliency and empathy displayed in the aftermath of the natural disasters and the hopes and dreams of its residents.

Beyond the input that informed the mural designs, the community was also invited to paint meaningful symbols on several of the murals. We had a paint day with each of the three youth camps and a community paint day that was open to the public. The symbols residents painted on the walls showcase their hopes, dreams and what resiliency meant to them following the natural disasters.

CHAPTER 1 – Diversity, located at Child Abuse & Prevention Services (non-profit)

We celebrate the cultural diversity of Marshalltown through the representation of three families gazing hopefully into the horizon. Each family embodies a different cultural background, showcasing the richness of the community. 

Adding to the scene, graceful monarch butterflies fly around them. These butterflies are a common element in all the designs and symbolize the significant migration that has shaped Marshalltown over the past few decades. 

By bringing these families and butterflies together, we highlight the diverse tapestry of cultures of our community. It fosters a sense of harmony, understanding, and collective strength.

CHAPTER 2 – Remembrance, located at Adland Engraving (private business)

This design serves as a tribute to the community’s history. An elderly person sits, holding a house with a fallen tree atop it, symbolizing the impact of the natural disasters. The mural evokes a sense of remembrance, honoring the community’s past, its enduring spirit and the natural beauty that surrounds Marshalltown. 

The individual portrays a sense of peace and calming. They are embracing and holding onto our past while gazing forward to the future. Similar to the previous design, monarch butterflies surround the central figure. Additionally, a bluebird takes flight, symbolizing the local wildlife. 

In the background, dynamic line patterns fill the mural, creating a sense of movement and connecting it visually to the other artworks.

CHAPTER 3 – Resiliency, located at Anson Park Shelter (City Park)

This chapter focuses on the remarkable resiliency displayed by the community in the aftermath of the tornado and derecho natural disasters. It portrays people coming together, supporting one another as they work diligently to clear debris and repair the damage. 

The artwork also showcases an abundance of native flora, including shooting star flowers, monarda, and cosmos, representing the natural beauty of the area. The design has many intricate details and vibrant colors. It captivates viewers, compelling them to pause and give their attention to its multitude of elements. 

Through this powerful artwork, we honor the community’s unwavering spirit, highlighting their collective efforts in overcoming adversity. The inclusion of native flowers further underscores the resilience and beauty that can emerge from challenging circumstances.

CHAPTER 4 – Dreams, located at Woodbury School (Marshalltown School)

The final chapter of the mural series embodies the hopes and dreams of the community, reflecting their aspirations for the future and the elements that ignite their imagination, propelling them towards a brighter tomorrow. 

The design portrays a diverse group of kids joining hands, creating a powerful visual where a “tornado shape” emerges from their collective interaction. This symbolizes the community’s strength and unity. It includes native wildlife, such as the Goldfinch and a Hummingbird. Adding to the artistic composition, native flowers bring light and beauty to the design. Among them are prairie roses and New England asters, representing the natural flora that flourishes in the region. 

Finally, hopeful words are incorporated throughout the design. These words are directly from the community from the survey question “Looking to the future, what are your hopes and dreams for Marshalltown? If you could sum up your vision in one word, what would it be?”

Words incorporated in the mural: Growth, Dreams, Joy, Community, Heal, Believe, Marshalltown Strong, Unity, Hopeful, Respect, Prosperity, Destination, Aspire, Unity and Vibrant.