The DeKalb community is encouraged to come together to create a two-story mosaic mural on City Hall.
The design for the mural, which will be a blend of mosaic panels and painted imagery on the City Hall’s south exterior wall, received the support of the DeKalb City Council on April 10.
The design 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, centered around the mural’s theme of belonging, to include in the design. Danielle also performed research with staff at the DeKalb County History Center and conducted online polls. The City’s Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission, which is made up of community volunteers, provided feedback on the design and recommended it receive City Council support.
Casali’s design began with a landscape composition suggesting agriculture and prairies, and she then incorporated DeKalb’s abundant community gardens.
“The diverse garden that is shown is well tended, the roots are strong and plants and pollinators have a vital, interdependent relationship,” said Casali. “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.”
Other DeKalb imagery includes the Huskie pride hand sign, Kishwaukee River and flying geese.
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, Casali will be holding volunteer sessions for the next several months to create the mural in a workspace located at the library. Volunteers will work directly with the artist, learning to use basic hand tools, cutting stained glass and ceramic, and laying tesserae for mosaic.
“Danielle did a wonderful job integrating into her mural concept design ideas and suggestions that were generated through public workshops earlier this spring,” said Brad Hoey, chair of the Citizens’ Community Enhancement Commission, which secured a T-Mobile Hometown Grant that will support the mural’s creation. “Our community now has the opportunity to actively participate in helping Danielle bring to life a work of art that highlights the history, culture, and people that make DeKalb a great place to live, work, learn, and play.”
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.
The first opportunities to volunteer are April 18 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and April 27 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. More sessions will be scheduled as work progresses.
Volunteers need to sign up in advance to ensure there is enough space in the workshop. Signup can be done online here. Community support is vital to making the mural a reality, so volunteers are encouraged to attend multiple work sessions. The website also includes more information on the mural’s design.
The design for the mural on DeKalb City Hall was inspired by ideas generated in community brainstorming sessions. Volunteers are now needed to create the mural’s mosaic pieces.