YPSILANITI, MI – Michelle Hanke has always loved creating art, but she never knew that one day she would create a design for a 10 x 12 mosaic mural.
Now, Ypsilanti has Hanke’s work on display at 301 W. Michigan Ave.
The mural is a collaboration between two non-profit organizations, Youth Arts Alliance (YAA) and Our House. YAA offers healing-focused seminars for youth throughout Michigan, while Our House helps youth, ages 14 to 25, progress from foster care to adulthood.
The collaboration consists of several eight-week workshops that teach its members how to create different works of art. Currently, the participants are learning how to create two-dimensional art with different mediums such as collage, watercolor and charcoal.
“It’s a truly relaxing and enjoyable way for people to meet and meet while being able to do something expressive and creative,” said Natasha Doan-Motsinger, executive director of Our House.
While mosaic was being taught in 2021, participants were able to submit their drawings for the mural project. Hanke, chair of the Our House youth advisory board, “never” thought she would be cast.
Doan-Motsinger said the workshop instructor chose Hanke’s design because it not only showed what our home represents, but also how art can bring people together.
Hanke’s goal with his design was to represent the meaning of community. The saying “two heads are better than one” inspired her to design multiple heads that join one into the other. The variety of colors is meant to include everyone within the community.
“I wanted everyone to feel like they could be a part of it,” he said. “When we started doing the workshops, I started to see community and connection with people. This is what I wanted the mural to represent ”.
Since its unveiling on May 19, Hanke said the mural “has continued to bring people together.”
Although the mural design was Hanke’s idea, its creation was “definitely a community effort,” Doan-Motsinger said. Nearly 100 people helped install pieces of glass over eight sessions for about two to three hours each.
“It was a good opportunity to get in touch with everyone. For many of the people we serve who joined us during the pandemic (it probably was) the first time they met in person and the first opportunity they had to attend a community event in about two years, “Doan- Motsinger said.
Hanke said she was “grateful” for the experience and that this project was able to provide our home with greater recognition.
Our house plans to continue doing art workshops in the future. Both Doan-Motsinger and Hanke saw the effect of this program on the people involved.
“Sometimes it is really difficult for people who come from the foster care system to develop relationships with people due to different trauma and situations. It’s really cool to see people open up, “Hanke said.” I feel like art … (it’s a way) to come together and be vulnerable if we choose. “
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