City Hall Mural

The text "DeKalb City Hall Mural" over colorful images from the mural design

Sign up here to become a mural volunteer

The community's mural
The City Hall mural was inspired by the community’s ideas gathered at a pair of workshops in February facilitated by the artist, Danielle Casali. Community members worked in small groups to brainstorm ideas for imagery to include in the design centered around the mural’s theme of belonging. Danielle also performed research with staff at the DeKalb County History Center and conducted online polls. The Citizens' Community Enhancement Commission, which is made up of volunteers from DeKalb, provided feedback on the design and recommended City Council support, which was received on April 10.

Along with serving as the mural’s theme, belonging will be the spirit of the mural’s creation. In a partnership with the DeKalb Public Library, Danielle will be holding volunteer sessions for the next several months to create the mural in a workspace located at the library. 

  • Community support is vital to making the mural a reality, so volunteers are encouraged to attend multiple work sessions.
  • Volunteers will work directly with the artist, learning to use basic hand tools, cutting stained glass and ceramic, and laying tesserae for mosaic. 
  • No experience is necessary to volunteer, and there is something to do for every age and ability. 
  • Along with individuals and families, groups formed by businesses, places of worship, nonprofits, clubs and other organizations can volunteer together. 
  • Children are welcome to attend with a caregiver and can lay pre-cut tiles or create their own mosaic honeybee or earthworm!
  • All tools and safety glasses are provided. There is always a slight risk working with broken glass; the process and materials are generally safe but please use personal judgement when bringing children.
  • Volunteers should wear closed-toe shoes and paint clothes. Beverages can be brought into the workspace but they should be covered.
  • Feel free to bring a porcelain plate, or broken mirror to donate to the project. 
  • Volunteers need to sign up in advance to ensure there is enough space in the workshop. Signup can be done online here
  • Check back often! More work sessions will added weekly throughout the summer until the mural is complete.
  • Participants should meet on the lower level of the DeKalb Public Library at the bottom of the stairs at the start time for your volunteer shift. You will then be guided to the workshop space.

Several volunteers have asked if they can support the project by donating supplies. Yes! Donations of the following items are welcome:

  • Medium and large yogurt/cottage cheese containers with or without lids
  • Sharpies, black
  • Bistro chalk markers thin, any color
  • Disposable plastic drop cloths
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Rubber gloves, disposable plastic gloves
  • Rags (cut up t-shirts or box of rags)
  • Blue automotive paper towels
  • Dust masks
  • Clear plastic bins for sorting tile with lids 
  • Plastic buckets, all sizes
  • Large solo cups
  • Exacto knives or box cutters
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Windex
  • Goo gone wipes

The design
Danielle began the design with a landscape composition suggesting rural farming and prairie landscape. She then incorporated contemporary agriculture and DeKalb’s abundant community gardens. The metaphor of a garden is full of possibilities: a vibrant, diverse garden that is well tended, where the roots are strong and plants and pollinators have a vital, interdependent relationship. DeKalb is not only a land of traditional agriculture, but also a diverse city where individuals tend to literal community gardens and contribute to the larger community. Danielle’s aim is for the mural to represent DeKalb without repeating images that already exist in downtown murals.
The City Hall mural design includes native plants, crops, the Kishwaukee River, the sun and geese.

The mural will be created on the two-story exterior south wall of City Hall.

Some details

A hand making the Huskie pride sign & a pair of hands making the ASL sign for belonging.

Hands are intermingled among the roots and vines representing multiple generations planting together. The hand on the left is making the Huskie pride sign, while the pair of hands on the right make the American Sign Language sign for belonging.

There are quotes speaking to the idea of belonging woven into the bottom of the design. One from Helen Keller reads, “Alone we can do so little, Together we can do so much.”

Niches in the design, including one between the hands, provide a place where people can stand and take a photo in the mural.

A mural design detail shows constellations and the North Star.
These constellations include the North Star, which was vital to travelers who came to DeKalb through the underground railroad.

A mural design shows hands holding an elote, kabob and Paleta.The design features garden plants used by local restaurants to make delicacies such as elote, kabobs and Paletas.

A mural design detail shows four geese flying with sunbeams behind them.The geese will be made of mosaic to shine in the sunlight.

Questions on the City Hall Mural project can be sent to Scott Zak, City Staff Liaison to the Citizens' Community Enhancement Commission.