the forest floor

In the summer of 2022, I began a community mural project with Woodland Centers, a mental health facility based in Willmar, MN. They wanted to animate a retaining wall and engage the community they serve in a meaningful way. It is a big assignment.

The story behind the mural is important to me. I have worked with Woodland Centers in a few different roles in the past, mostly offering creative outlets or team building activities to support the staff. To put it mildly, the work they do is HARD. A resource like Woodland Centers is essential to the health of our community, and that has been proven through the conversations that have happened over the work tables.

The image of the forest floor is a metaphor for our community. It is an ecosystem in which each living thing depends on the health and survival of every other living thing; just like us. The chipmunk depends on the oak tree that depends on the mushrooms that depend on the soil that depends on the worms and so on and so on.

The public painting days are a flurry, but these days have their own pace – introductions, directions, painting, conversation, relaxation, more conversation. We’ve hosted three over the past summer and will host more over the coming summer in each of the seven counties in central MN that are served by Woodland Centers. Like I said, it’s a big assignment.

In between the public events, I fill in missed spots, add details and plan the placement on the wall. It’s fun to see what the painters have done, make small corrections but leave enough of their work in the final mural. Last fall, I battled the weather to get enough time to paste the mural pieces on the wall before the temps got too cold. All of the painted pieces we’ll work on this coming summer will be attached to this same wall and the forest floor will continue to expand.

What you see here is a work in progress; there will be more to come. Maybe a bear, maybe a fox, lots of ground cover and mushrooms. Oh, and butterflies. We mural artists love the butterflies. See you at the painting tables!

two artists taking a break in the middle of a project
I am so grateful for my pal, Naomi, who helped make our community painting days super successful!
She is the champion kid-whisperer.

3 responses to “the forest floor

  1. Kristin, you are absolutely amazing! Love the explanation of the forest floor. We are so fortunate to have Woodland Centers in our area, and the metaphor works perfectly. Thank you for sharing your time and talent. Naomi, too!!

  2. So so beautiful … Art, community, theme… And a lot of work!! Thank you thank you to you and Naomi and the community for making beauty and serenity for everyone ❤🎨

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