On the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, like many others, we are taking some time to remember the victims and their families. We are also reflecting on how such a devastating event brought the four of us together as an art collective, and on how much we've learned about collaborating with our community. Our project manager, Faith, has shared her personal reflection below.
Last year was the first time I ever attended a Pride parade. I spent the weekend in Indianapolis with some of my closest friends, and I was excited to take part in a significant cultural event that I hadn't been exposed to growing up in a small, rural Indiana town. When I heard the news the next day about the mass shooting at Pulse, I was shell shocked. Like many people, I couldn't help but think, "That could have been me. That could have been any of my friends." I realized just how easy it is for LGBTQ+ folks to be made to feel invisible and unsafe. As I drove back to Muncie Sunday evening, I listened to an NPR reporter describe the scene and felt sick to my stomach. I felt angry, hurt, and most of all, helpless.
It was during that drive when I noticed that the Muncie City Building was illuminated by rainbow-colored lights. That small, simple gesture felt like getting a hug from my community and gave me a little bit of hope. I knew I couldn't be the only person who'd been moved by those lights, and I got an idea to create a piece of public art in Muncie-- something that would be more permanent than those lights, but that would have the same ability to make people who see it feel hopeful, safe, and valued.
Fast forward twelve months, and we are nearing the completion of a collaborative mural on the side of the Mark III Taproom. A project this big could have been met with discouragement, or failed entirely, at any point during the past year. We could have been met with skepticism from the staff of the Mark III. The owner of the building could have told us "no," point blank. The community could have decided not to donate any money to our project. Luckily for us, we've been met with support, enthusiasm, and creative energy at every step.
This project has been bigger than the four of us initially imagined. It has not been simple, but it has been one of the most significant learning experiences of my life. It's easy to look at the bright, colorful patterns we've been painting on the wall and forget that this project was born in response to a tragedy. I could go on for hours about how significant creating this piece of art with my friends and collaborators has been--but for today, I'd like to focus on remembering the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting and remind everyone reading this to give the world an extra dose of love today.