Visitors to the red Nature Barn at Stoever’s Dam Park may notice something new — a mosaic mural.
Artist Aurelis Figueroa, who also serves on the LVCOA’s board, worked with participants during a two-week summer mosaic camp hosted by the Council on the Arts to create the piece.
Work on the mural began mid-July. The larger tiles were installed in the studio, and then the work shifted to the Nature Barn.
Figueroa, who has participated in several of the council’s mosaic camps led by artist Michaelanne Helms, said she volunteered to lead this year’s camp since Helms was not available.
Figueroa created the mural’s botanical-themed design. There are flowers, including sunflowers and dandelion seed heads and seeds, as well as butterflies, a cardinal, and an owl.
“I included the owl at the request of the caretaker of the park,” she said.
The mural also includes the phrases “not forgotten,” “you are not alone,” and “breathe.”
“We wanted to create a space so that if someone was battling thoughts of suicide, they could see the mural and realize that they’re not alone,” Figueroa explained. “We also wanted people whose lives were touched by a loved one’s suicide to see the mosaic and realize their loved one is not forgotten.”
During the first week of camp, discussion centered on mosaic tiles and how to cut, grout, and install them.
“I wanted to teach the participants so they could show any community members who might be interested in helping to install the mural,” Figueroa explained.
She said about 15 people helped with the mural — about half were first-time mosaic camp participants, while the balance had participated in previous camps. Last year’s camp participants, which included Figueroa, helped install the mural at Progressive Playground at 350 North First St. in Lebanon.
The mural is also located near the Remembrance Garden created by the Suicide Prevention Task Force. In 2016, Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello granted the Suicide Prevention Task Force permission to utilize the space at Stoever’s Dam Park for a remembrance garden.
Janine Mauser, Child & Adolescent System Service Program Coordinator for Lebanon County Mental Health and co-chair of the Suicide Prevention Task Force, said that she hopes the mural evokes movement with the tilt of the flowers and the plants and an imagined flutter of wings.
“Peacefulness, movement, and growth – that is our hope for all garden visitors,” she said. “For all those who visit because they know a name on one of the brick pavers [in the Remembrance Garden], I hope for peaceful visits that allow for the fondest memories of their loved ones.”
She said the garden offers a quiet space for those who have lost someone to suicide.
“It is not a grave or a cemetery but, rather, a peaceful environment to reflect on the life and the memories of their loved one. It is a place to find a sense of community free of stigma or judgement,” she said. “Families and friends can gather, knowing that they are not alone and their loved one is remembered. What a better way to enhance this visit to the garden than to embellish an otherwise plain, dull wall with a bright, vibrant beautiful work of art?”
Mauser said that each year, the Task Force and friends of the Task Force weed, mulch and add plants to the garden as well as maintain the memorial pavers inscribed with the names of loves ones lost to suicide. The group also helps maintain a nearby butterfly garden.
The thought of further enhancing the area began one afternoon in early spring, when several members of the Suicide Prevention Task Force went to the garden to evaluate how harsh the winter had been on the garden, the pavers, and new plants installed last fall.
“We discussed possibly adding some hardscape enhancements to the garden. This conversation quickly led to the old greenhouse wall,” Mauser recalled. “Monica Boyer [consultation director of the Lebanon County agency] mentioned the fabulous murals the Council on the Arts has installed in various locations within the city and volunteered to contact Sharon Zook [president of LVCOA] to see if the greenhouse wall could be considered as a new mural site.”
Zook and Boyer met at the garden, and then got the process started to create the mural. Mauser said the Task Force suggested that the design for the mural be something botanical. “From there, we had complete trust in the … Council to make all the necessary decisions,” she said.
To have a loved one memorialized in the Remembrance Garden, call Monica Boyer or Janine Mauser at 717-274-3415.
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