'Paint it, and they will come': New mural promotes kindness
Columbia officially welcomed a new piece of artwork Wednesday during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the “Kindness Heals” mural. The project was commissioned by the local nonprofit Children’s Grove.
The mural is painted on the side of 1001 W. Worley St., a building that’s jointly occupied by Compass Health Network and the Health Department. It includes eight hands that spell out the word kindness in American Sign Language. Colorful butterflies also adorn the side of the building, symbolizing kindness.
The celebration brought together several organizations and familiar faces from across Columbia. Alongside the mural’s sponsors, members of DeafLEAD, a nonprofit that supports the deaf community, attended the event. Mayor Barbara Buffaloe was one of the event’s speakers, and the mural was painted by artist and Columbia native Tina Blanck.
“This is my first mural,” said Blanck, now a Kansas City-based artist, during her speech at the ceremony. “I had no idea the impact that it would have on me and how much joy it would bring.”
Blanck said she wanted to make her new piece of art inclusive by using different skin tones for each of the hands she painted.
“My hope was that every person would connect, in some way, with the mural,” Blanck said.
DeafLEAD social worker Ashley Pappineau expressed the significance of seeing ASL in public spaces.
“I’m hoping that it’s an opportunity for people to learn the language to an extent, start looking for opportunities to meet other deaf people (and) to be more inclusive in the community,” Pappineau said in ASL while communicating through an interpreter.
“I’m hoping that it really has some more impact in the community and people reach out,” Pappineau said.
This mural is one of many projects facilitated by Children’s Grove, an organization devoted to supporting the well-being of children. In addition to hiring local artists to create kindness-themed murals, the volunteer-based group dedicates trees and butterfly-shaped benches, as well as sponsoring various youth outreach programs, including clubs at Columbia Public Schools.
Joyce Smith, the Arts Chair of Children’s Grove, said she wants to work with the mayors of Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis to spread the “Kindness Heals” mural design across the state.
“Let’s take this exact Children’s Grove art mural down I-70,” Smith said. “To the west in Kansas City ... and to the east in St. Louis ... Let’s make Columbia, Missouri, the heart of kindness. So, my philosophy is: paint it, and they will come.”