Groundswell engaged VIP Community Services adult clients in the research, design, and creation of a large-scale mural to generate public awareness around the complex issue of chemical dependency. Through an intensive six-week workshop, 21 VIP Community Services adult clients worked with Lead Artist Marc Evan and Assistant Artist Raul Ayala to create the multi-story mural for VIP’s state-of-the-art residential facility The Laura Parsons Residence for Men. In support of the recovery-based treatment program provided by VIP Community Services and its New York State partner the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), Groundswell collaborated with recruited volunteers at the facility to leverage the artmaking process as a catalyst for healing and self-discovery.
The research period started with a field trip to the American Folk Art Museum. Facilitated by Evan and Ayala, the project team explored the definition of hero through the lenses of mythological and historical symbolism. Inspired by the self-taught artists featured in the exhibition “Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum,” the project team set out to capture the rich ideas and themes which emerged from its discussions. With an explosion of ideas, the mural celebrates the power of the mind. A collage of symbols harmoniously becomes the design’s focal point, illustrating how many minds cohesively become one. For example, a turtle representing longevity is balanced by a whale symbolizing the aspiration to dream and achieve grand initiatives. Two reptiles – connecting the bottom part of the mural with the explosion of ideas on the top – represent the concept of rebirth.