How does a non-artist coordinate a mural? Well, in a way, it's better to be a non-artist. If she was an artist, her
own vision might get in the way.
As a therapist, in fact, she may have the ideal skills. Kelly sees a clear relationship between
therapy and her mural work: "I have sat with people who are willing to pay a lot of money to change. They really,
really want to change. But time and time again, they don't change. And I realize that change is very, very hard.
you take that to a community level, change becomes even harder. What works is to create a vision and hold that vision out
in front of them, so it pulls them forward into a new place. I really like how a mural does that. People see it every day.
It helps you remember who you want to be."
Kelly's role is to draw out the group's values,
and help translate them into imagery. "We start with a brainstorming session. Then we divide into small groups. [After
that,] everybody has to report back."
It's remarkable, she says, how often the small groups
produce ideas that work well together: "I'll go around looking at all the different groups, and the similarities are
obvious. It just becomes an issue of, how do they tie together visually?"
a "design refine team" hones the ideas into a coherent whole -- with a strict duty to stay true to the process.
Then, they break out the paint.
You might wonder if decorating walls is the best way
to foster peace in a troubled community. Well, so has Kelly. "There have been times when I've looked at the people who
are building houses, they are on the ground in some concrete, tangible way. I've felt like, compared to that, my work seems
a bit foo-foo."
But over and over again, she has witnessed the two-tiered impact of a mural project. First, the
creative process helps build a sense of community. Then, the finished product -- a wall-sized statement of values -- helps
reinforce those values.