Nearly seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic and the mental health of American citizens continues to be negatively affected by the virus. Changing work schedules, the transition of our children to e-learning, self-isolation, and shear worry have had a profound impact, not just on our personal lives but the communities in which we live. While evidence continues to suggest that the number of Americans reporting depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and even suicide is on the rise, state and local policy has discouraged social interactions that have become crucial to our overall mental well-being.
The Douglas County Museum hopes to change that by infusing a little art into the county. In an effort to “bring people together” in both a literal and figurative sense, the Douglas County Museum Association will be seeking volunteers to help paint the “county’s largest mural” located at the county museum in Tuscola. Executive Director Anna Miller says “Unfortunately, we have had to postpone many of our events this year, not just at the museum, but events that help expose our museum to the wider county audience.” Miller continues, “it’s those kinds of events that are crucial to our organization and its members.
Museum Association President Hannah Myers has been eager to push the mural project forward given the current pandemic. Myers states, “not only is this mural a great way to get people outdoors and off technology, it gives county residents the opportunity to be a part of something much larger than themselves.” “We hope after completion, the mural can really serve as a medium for a much richer county connection.”
The mural’s paint-by-number concept was designed by Vintage Karma owner and Douglas County Museum Association Vice President, Ainslie Heilich. The design features images representative of the county’s overall history; a C &EI train, Amish buggy, and original county courthouse to name a few. However, tucked into those images are smaller “Easter eggs” that are tied to individual communities scattered throughout the county.
Mural designer Heilich stated that “we really wanted a mural that highlighted interesting, and often overlooked connections to local areas.” The mural has, in fact, taken more than forty hours to design and Heilich is set to begin the process October 15.
The museum had an outpouring of interest in the upcoming mural event, and for that they are thankful! However, in an effort to maintain social distancing guidelines as well as provide adequate time with mural designers, they are encouraging groups, up to five, to reserve a two-hour time slot starting October 17 at 9:00 a.m. and continuing with two-hour intervals until 5:00 p.m. Starting Sunday, the 18 and continuing through to Friday the 23, volunteer hours will begin at 11:00 a.m. and continue at two-hour intervals until 5:00 p.m. You can sign up for a time slot on the Douglas County Museum’s Facebook page or by contacting any event organizer.
However, please note, that you are in no means obligated or held to these times. If you are unable to make it, that is okay! If you are finished before the time is up, that’s okay too! They are simply trying to ease congestion and confusion surrounding the organization of our event. They want to make sure that they not only follow all recommended health measures but provide volunteers with a fun and rewarding experience.
Paintbrushes, paint and beverages will be provided, and volunteers are encouraged to wear older clothing in case of painting accidents. Heilich plans to complete the mural on October 24 where citizens are encouraged to come watch his final touches. If you have any questions regarding the mural, you can contact Anna Miller at the Douglas County Museum at 217-253-2525.
Even if you are not planning to paint, come, bring a chair and watch the action!