Local artist to showcase Vermillion community in new mural
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Local artist to showcase Vermillion community in new mural

Vermillion’s Community Connection Center (CCC) is working with a local artist and community members to liven up their community space.

The CCC is a community space where organizations like United Way of Vermillion, Vermillion Food Pantry, The Welcome Table and Salvation Army are located. According to the CCC website, the CCC is “a place where those in need can receive assistance, moving from crisis to stability, and ultimately, self-sufficiency.” 

Susan Heggestad, a professional artist and Vermillion native, is creating a mural for the CCC to showcase what Vermilion represents. 

Beginning in late 2019, Heggestad worked with the executive director of United Way and the CCC, Kelsey Collier-Wise, to develop how they wanted to bring artwork into the CCC space. 

“We discussed some themes and approaches at various points throughout the winter, with the hopes of getting underway in the spring of 2020,” Heggestad said, “We pushed the official start of the mural project off until this past summer due to the pandemic, but also the hopes of incorporating the creative input of the (local) kids.” 

Heggestad said they had to adjust their approach to the mural due to the pandemic, but they still wanted to include as much community input as possible. 

To get the word out in the community, Heggestad and the CCC took to Facebook and local businesses.

“I created a prompt sheet to get folks’ creative juices flowing,” Heggestad said. 

Sheets were distributed through the food pantry and other places downtown. The prompts on the sheet included questions to spur ideas about joy, safety, inclusivity and community. 

They had lots of input from Facebook, Heggestad said, as community members and friends shared their ideas.

The overall input from the community has been helpful in creating ideas, Heggestad said.

“It’s been exciting to see what community members come up with as their answers for some of the creative prompts,” Heggestad said. 

For Heggestad, imagery is the name of the game. She said they want to make sure the mural not only represents Vermillion, but how the CCC affects the entire community.

“There’s space for a great deal of imagery, so the challenge will be to incorporate enough of the input to be truly representative, but still be coherent and not overly complex,” Heggestad said. 

To ensure the safety of others, Heggestad is the primary artist on the mural, but may be assisted by volunteers if it is deemed safe. 

Collier-Wise said the mural will represent more than just the Vermillion community.

“We envision art that speaks to our mission: to create connection in the community and make sure that every citizen has everything they need for stability and security,” Collier-Wise said.

At the moment, the mural is still in the beginning stages. Heggestad said she hopes to complete the mural by mid-to-late October.

“There’s quite a bit of tentativeness there, as I’m primarily attempting to do this by myself,” Heggestad said, “The goal is to have the mural ready once the CCC is ready to be open for visitors again.” 

As the CCC brings many community organizations together, Heggestad said she looks to create a mural with purpose. 

“The hope for the mural is primarily to enliven this space within the [CCC] so that it feels welcoming and vibrant,” Heggestad said.