The Veterans’ Freedom Mural Project
IVW, Delaware’s Interfaith Veterans Workgroup, is helping the Veterans Freedom Mural Project by sharing with local artists their memories of what it was like to go to war and come home. A mural reflecting such memories will be painted on the north facing wall of Marcella’s House, a 31-unit veterans residential facility at 901-903 Washington Street in Wilmington, owned by the Connections Community Support Program, Inc. Connections and Creative District Wilmington are partnering in this first project of the Public Art Prep Program. The goal of PPAP is not just to produce beautiful art in public places, but to enhance the skills of local artists and build community by involving local citizens in making art.
The leader of the Veterans’ Freedom Mural Project
The leader of the Veterans Freedom Mural is a well known Philadelphia artist, Eric Okdeh. After receiving his BFA in painting from the Tyler School of Art, Eric chose to focus on public art exclusively. He has taught mural making classes to children and teens, as well as inmates at SCI Graterford Prison. Eric has over eighty public art commissions in Philadelphia, and has trained and led community artists in mural painting in Wailuku, Hawaii; Seville, Spain, and Amman, Jordan. His work is featured in seven books about public and mural art.
Eric’s method doesn’t involve painting directly on walls, but rather, on fabric similar to parachute cloth, cut into many sections. These sections can be painted indoors, which is a great advantage considering Delaware weather! After the sections are completed they will be glued to the building surface, the wrinkles will be smoothed out, and a clear, protective covering will be applied to the entire surface. Sound fun? If you would like to participate, contact the Interfaith Veterans’ Workgroup using the Contact tab on this website.
A Sacred Journey to True Freedom
As I think about the name, “Veterans Freedom Mural”, I remember two Vietnam vets who didn’t make it home as I did. Eric Taylor, an across-the-street boyhood friend, and Johnny Rucker, a member of my Boy Scout Raven patrol. Their names appear at the bottom of the Vietnam War memorial in Brandywine Park. Speech makers often remark that servicemen and women are prepared to give their lives, as Eric and John did, to preserve freedom. It also should be said that for vets who do make it back “to the world”, getting free of burdens that weigh on their hearts and minds and souls can be equally as trying as making war. So, as my home town prepares to honor veterans with a Freedom Mural, this returning warrior is grateful for an opportunity to take up a brush alongside others, showing with our hands and hearts that really coming home isn’t easy, and that warriors’ burdens are lightened when we work together, honoring the sacredness of a journey to true freedom.