As part of the City Of Eugene's Urban Canvas mural program, and with the assistance and donations of several local businesses and community members, the Eugene-based non-profit organization Mobility International USA (MIUSA) has installed a mural that we can all be proud of.
Those who frequent downtown Eugene may turn down an alley to find themselves face to face with the images of disabled women activists. Cheering, singing, signing, supporting one another, they are powerful, they are hopeful, they are confident. Above all, they are "Loud, Proud, and Passionate®."
The idea of creating this mural, perhaps one of the first of its kind in the world, was initiated by Susan Sygall, CEO and co-founder of MIUSA who is also a wheelchair rider and disability rights activist. MIUSA, whose mission is to advance disability rights and leadership globally, is dedicated to advancing the status of disabled women around the world. As part of its signature program, the Women's Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD), MIUSA has brought together over 280 disabled women activists from over 89 countries to Eugene, Oregon for intensive leadership trainings. Sygall wanted to see representations of disabled women leaders reflected in the Eugene community's new landscape of beautiful murals.
MIUSA is proud to have collaborated with Urban Canvas, the City of Eugene Cultural Services’ local mural program. Urban Canvas strives to create a vibrant and dynamic public art community in Eugene by providing opportunities for local artists to create murals with local businesses.
Next, Sygall asked alumni of the WILD program to share their ideas for mural themes, including emotions, imagery, or phrases it should convey. Among these were "Loud, Proud and Passionate®," the mantra of the WILD program. In the mural design, this mantra appears in English, Spanish, Arabic, and French, and its shorthand "LPP" is depicted in American Sign Language fingerspelling. These five languages are those which the WILD program has utilized in its trainings of women from around the world.
To design the bulk of the mural, Sygall commissioned artist Chloe Crawford. As a former MIUSA staff person who has worked on the WILD program, Chloe had previously designed several graphics for MIUSA that were at once vibrant, colorful, and whimsical. As a disabled artist, Chloe is also knowledgeable about depicting people with disabilities in art in a rights-based way.
Sygall was assisted by Ashley Holben, Project Specialist at MIUSA, to coordinate the logistics and communications needed to bring this project to fruition.
Every work of art needs a canvas, and thanks to the innovative thinking and provision of wall space from Michael Phinney, owner of Full City Coffee, and David Counter, who owns the Pearl Street building that houses Full City Coffee, the project was able to move forward.
Thanks to Tommy's Paint Pot owner and manager Craig Bond, who supports community art, the local business generously provided all of the high-quality Benjamin Moore paints and supplies needed to execute this ambitious project.
Tom Madison, a faculty member of Lane Community College's Media Arts program, devoted many hours of technical expertise to interpret colors, prepare the mural design for installation, project and trace the design, and painting the finer details of the artwork.
And of course we all know it takes a village to create a mural. That's why MIUSA thanks the many community members who spent many hours creating this mural, including MIUSA Board of Directors and staff, homestay families, staff from area businesses and non-profits, and others.
The next important step before the mural is complete will be to create a tactile element so that blind and low vision people can access the mural.
MIUSA looks forward to having local residents and visitors experience this artistic version of pride and solidarity of women with disabilities everywhere.
Having fulfilled this dream, Sygall already has another: "Perhaps other communities throughout the world will look to this mural as a catalyst to create their own works of public art portraying the power and pride of disabled women, who for so long have not been portrayed as part of our communities, and have not had our culture and pride represented artistically through murals."
Mural Image Description
The mural covers a 30 feet wide by 5 feet high portion of a brick wall in the alleyway adjacent to Full City coffee, on Full City’s Pearl street side. Approximately half (the left half) of the mural shows a crowd of people in hot pink silhouette filled with a dark purple text that matches the dark purple background. The text reads: Loud Proud & Passionate; Fuertes Orguillosas & Apasionadas; Fortes, Fières & Passionnées; as well as in Arabic. The “Loud and Proud” of each language are in bolder font, while the “Passionate” text is a fancier font with flourishes. Below the text, three large hands appear in silhouette making the fingerspelling shapes: L – P – P for Loud, Proud and Passionate®.
The right half of the mural is a crowd of women forming a couple of rows. Some interact with one another by putting hands on one another’s shoulders. Some are wearing small smiles while others appear to be shouting or cheering. Some have assistive devices such as white canes, forearm crutches, motorized scooters, power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs, and prosthetic limbs. Some hold their hands in sign language signs, such as “I love you” as well as the signs that the WILD women have used to sign the “Loud Proud and Passionate” song in which they make an “L” shape with both hands and hold them moving away from their mouths upward. The women have a range of skin colors of dark and light browns, olive, pale white, and tan. Their clothes – pants, t-shirts, dresses, head scarves, shorts, tunics, and hats/head wraps - are royal and sky blues, lime greens, raspberry pinks, sunny yellows, grape purples, and lavender. The wheelchairs are generally black and grey.