Just a week ago I shared the beginnings of a giant mural. Here’s a few pictures of the process and a great time-lapse video they produced of it all.
This was the day before our 49th anniversary, when I put up the sign saying so. Here I am throwing paint. That small painting on the left is for another project coming up, brought as sample. (Click on all these pictures to enlarge.)
The first day was really one of preparation. A professional carpenter had built the stretcher bars to size, done with kiln-dried wood and dowels (no nails or screws). It was waiting for us on-site. I brought a giant bolt of canvas and, with help, stretched and stapled it onto the bars. Then Anne and I went to work putting in a background color. Some asked, “Why blue?” It was just to get rid of all that white. But as I thought about it, God’s banquet would likely be outside . . . no ceiling, no walls, with blue sky and stars.
The venue was the large Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village and the occasion, a first-ever international conference of disabled people sponsored by Joni and Friends, a well-known organization dedicated to helping these people in a myriad of ways and around the world.
Every one in the picture is a real person with a real story. The little boy in the front was recipient of Joni and Friends’ one-hundred-thousandth donated wheelchair.
After preparation, it was a four-day project. Of course they were 12 to 14-hour days. The photos here were taken on the last day, when I asked Anne to get involved again, as she had on the first day. Though very much an artist, Anne is not a painter. No matter: I needed the help. She put in the fruit on the table and a few other details. When she wasn’t painting, she was “handling traffic” as people gathered around at multiple times day and evening, between sessions and during meals.
Enlarge to see details like the photo and my famous ironing board and laptop, all very handy tools Da Vinci could have wished he had.
Planning for this project started about a year and a half ago. I was confident I could paint what they had in mind, but only if I had a photo to work from. Just two weeks before, all these people, with various disabilities, sometimes along with their caretaker, dressed in international garb were photographed. The photo session took a whole day, with some elements photoshopped in later. A print of the result is on the wheeled cart in front of Anne.
Notice that some at the table are servers, and in fact often the disabled need a full-time helper (or more) just to get on. God bless both parties.
The mural depicts a take on Jesus’s parable in Luke 14 where a man prepared a grand banquet but everyone invited was too busy to come. So he instructed his servants to go out and get people from among “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” It’s a theme truth with Joni and Friends and the mural will hang prominently in their headquarters and speak to what they’re about.
It’s real people depicted in the mural, including one from Jamaica blinded and disfigured after being assaulted with battery acid, a scarred soldier without an ear, a little Guatemalan boy with severe cerebral palsy, a lovely young (pregnant) woman who suffered a stroke . . . and more.
Nine hundred people were at the conference, and I must say I was changed in the process. This is a real population, worldwide, often ignored, often further abused, particularly in third-world situations. Joni and Friends is a singular organization doing what they can to address it. Their website is here.
Here’s the video. (Click on the little arrows to enlarge.)
The following Sunday the pastor of the church where we’d been all week changed his whole plan to review and share with his congregations what had taken place. It gives a fuller picture. If you’d like to view it, it’s here.
I should add that Joni Erickson Tada is a quadriplegic since a teen, is also an artist (she paints with a brush in her mouth) as well as author (50 books), speaker (everywhere), and possibly the most inspiring person you’ll ever meet. I was honored to be chosen to do this project for her, and for all those she and her friends are working tirelessly to help.