The #MononLoveTrain

Peat Wollaeger aka Mr. EYEz is bringing the Love Train to town. Yesterday we got to paint with him, and this is how it went down.

Our First First Friday was AWESOME

Photo by Emily Schwank, Raincliffs Photography

Department of Public Words’ first First Friday at the Murphy was a huge success. A big thanks to everyone who came out and to everyone who helped us get the new space ready. We couldn’t do it without you. Also, a huge THANK YOU to Emily Schwank who captured the event with her amazing photography. Throughout the evening as people flooded in Emily observed people walking in together and asked them, “Do you know each other?”. Many of them responded that they did. She continued by asking, “Is there something on this wall of messages that you feel that this person needs to know?”. Their responses ranged from little giggles to a tear welling up in their eye. She had one of them turn their back as the other selected a message and then repeated the same for the other person. Without either seeing the messages chosen she would instruct them to back up to one another for a photograph and then captured their reaction when she asked them to show each other their messages. It is a powerful thing to see people sharing what they may have needed to say for years. Hugging, kissing, smiling, laughing, and tears of joy all happened.

Photo by Emily Schwank, Raincliffs Photography

Photo by Emily Schwank, Raincliffs Photography

It is our purpose at the Department of Public Words to empower people to words they may not have the voice to say, but through our encouragement we provide them with a priceless opportunity to share their heart.

In addition, Autumn Keller of ISIBEAL studio created incredibly Beautiful Moments in our studio and around the Murphy.

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Autumn Keller of ISIBEAL studio

See a sneak preview of the First Friday photos here.

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YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, Pulaski

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL photo by Matthew Hoffman

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL photo by Matthew Hoffman

On Sunday afternoon we loaded up and headed out to Winamac, Indiana by way of Logansport to install this YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL mural consisting of more than six hundred self portraits drawn by the students and faculty of Eastern Pulaski Elementary School.

Dave and Holly at work

Dave and Holly at work

For the first two hours, we didn’t know how this was going to go. With every new installation or mural comes new challenges and learning opportunities. This time around, we learned how to install the letters using an old school, one man lift and new school, industrial strength double-sided tape to hold the letters in place for drilling. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

A ray of hope

A ray of hope


While we were struggling to figure out how to make it work, Holly sent up a prayer, and a ray of light shone down.

The man behind the message and the message behind the man.

Matthew Hoffman, the man behind the message and the message behind the man.

Matthew Hoffman, who originally created the You Are Beautiful project (You-Are-Beautiful.com) came down from Chicago to help us with the install and to speak to the students.

Holly Combs spoke to the students as well, and led them in a 1… 2… 3… YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!
After the convocation, Matthew handed out silver foil YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL stickers to every student and teacher. What a beautiful way to end the school year!

Matthew hands out stickers to the students.

Matthew hands out stickers to the students.

Read the front page article in the Pharos-Tribune.

A Beautiful Mess

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Today we worked with Irvington artist, Rita Spalding, to add the finishing touch to our restored traffic signal box. A few months ago, the box we had painted in partnership with Foundation East was vandalized. In an apparent act of meanness, someone splashed a goldish-brown splatter of house paint on the happy little yellow car box.
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In an effort to prove that positivity is stronger than any vandal’s destructive impulses, we thoughtfully restored the box leaving whispers of the destruction and even incorporating them into the finished design. There is a small splash of paint on the windshield representing the idea that people don’t always see clearly. Also at the foundation are streaks that remain from the splasher’s drips which became the inspiration for growing something beautiful out of that which was meant for harm.
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Any public art is a conversation with the public, including those who may not like the positive vibes we send out with our work. In that knowledge we are aware that further damage to the work is always a possibility. As long as we have the ability to do so, we will take those sour lemons, and make sweet, sweet lemonade.
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Be a VOICE not an echo

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Department of Public Words worked with students at Warren Central High School through Arts for Learning to produce this 10′ x 18′ installation. In the words of a student who participated in the project:

“To me, this mural is a chance to prove to students that they can be heard. Having a part in this project has made me more certain that I want to be an artist. I want to be able to leave my mark, my legacy somewhere. With this mural, I have accomplished that goal. Seeing the mural will be the highlight of my high school career. To work with the artists, Holly and Dave, was an incredible experience in learning how this type of art works. If I could do anything again, it would be this. Helping to create this work of art has been the best moment of my young life.” – Hannah Reed (WCHS Student)

Click here for more about Warren Central’s ELO program.