Glass mosaic mural benefits local agency, families

Project Jericho, SEA collaborate on public art piece.

The 19-foot-long, 27-inch-high mural, unveiled Thursday, was created as part of a collaboration between SEA and Project Jericho. Its goal is to create a more inviting atmosphere as part of a larger goal to make the agency more approachable, said Tom McGrath, director of the SEA.

“I want for the agency and for the people in Clark County to know that we’re here to help them,” he said. “I would like to change the reputation of whatever people’s thoughts are on child support. I want people to not be scared about calling us.”

Community art can have a positive effect on people and be very healing, said Gail Christofferson, the artist who designed the mural.

“With the mosaic process, it’s a really nice metaphor that you can take those shattered pieces and you can put them together and create something beautiful again,” she said.

Ten families worked for five days in February to help create the mural during a Project Jericho winter arts camp called “Reflections on Family,” said Kristi Limes, the group’s outreach and education specialist.

“They have a lot of pride in what they did,” Limes said. “Parents had no idea their kids were capable of doing murals, but it was very empowering. Through encouragement, support and a lot of oversight, kids as young as first grade were working on the mural.”

The mural is underwater-themed, which was the agency staff’s idea, said McGrath. The idea came from the agency’s initials, SEA, he added.

“And then once it trickled down to that, one of the ideas is that with sea horses, the father actually takes care of the kids,” McGrath said. “And that was an interesting flip on what the norm is, so we wanted to show that fathers can take care of their kids.”

Rose Ortiz and her sons, Kaleb, Keagin and Kohl, attended the camp and worked on the mural. Ortiz said it was a good experience for them.

“I think it brought us closer together and I think it was a lot of fun for the kids,” she said.

Cassy Ward and boyfriend Tony Montgomery also worked on the mural with their kids. Ward said it was a new experience since none of them had ever worked with glass before.

“It brings us all in on the same level,” she said. “We’re all kind of beginners.”

Christofferson said the project benefited the agency because it now has a beautiful piece of art in its lobby that was created by clients, and it was beneficial for the families because they were able to take part in something different.

“How often does the public get to work on a piece of art that’s going to be displayed?” she said. “And they feel empowered that they are part of a piece of public art.”

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