The Hot Springs Arts Advisory Committee has approved the application for a proposed mural, by world-renowned artist Danaé Brissonnet, for the north-facing wall at Kollective Coffee & Tea, located at 110 Central Avenue, according to a news release sent by the City of Hot Springs Wednesday. The building owner, Bobby Graham, will be funding the project.
The city is now asking for public input on the proposed mural, which can be given between now and March 10. Input can be given here.
The following information is found in the "mural proposal and explanation."
For this mural project I would like to integrate community histories with symbolism based firmly in the local flora and fauna, such that nature can find her way back into the urban landscape.
I work primarily with paintbrushes to create colorful imagery with a layering of fine details, such that it invokes embroidery on an urban landscape, as a means to tell stories about the community in which I work.
My process begins by interviewing community members from diverse backgrounds, in order to gather pieces of a story that I attempt to portray through images and symbols that together relate a collective consciousness. My process will be adapted to our new pandemic reality, such that live interviews and in-person workshops will have to be done virtually or with extreme care to avoid contributing to the spread of COVID.
Each mural tells a tale of an inner life, emotions, and childhood, as well as how that micro story fits into a larger macro political context; such that the viewer can directly relate to the painting and see their own stories come to life on the wall before them.
There is no denying that Hot Springs is special.
For me, personally, I have traveled extensively for many years, and rarely do I find a place where I feel deeply calm and connected to its surrounding nature like I feel when I am in Hot Springs.
Furthermore, the kindness of the people charmed me immediately, and, as I learned about the roller coaster of history surrounding the water, I was even more inspired.
I experienced the water as an encounter of calm from where ideas and dreams grow, and I felt inspired to illustrate that experience.
In the Mural I propose, what I most want to represent of Hot Springs is the intertwining of its nature and history.
In my process, I always leave a space for creation with the community. My initial sketch is a starting point that is open to the community’s input. It is a work in progress that depends on the community around it, as the mural shapes and modifies itself.
As I began to become friends with the locals, I came upon a legend of the lady and the rainbow — holding an eagle feather in each hand, she guards the spring. If an offender of the spring does not listen, she lets one feather fall to his/her feet. From there came the principal idea of the hand coming out of the water, guarding the peace of the spring. Many native people believe that the smoke from the spring is the breath of the Grand Spirit that inhabits the Earth’s center. That belief further reinforces this primary image of hands protecting the region and guarding the water. However, hands do not only guard and protect, they also give and share, and are a symbol of generosity and peace.
Through this mural, I want to integrate the sacredness of the spring, as well as the sharing of peace and generosity it embodies. Hence, the little personified cherry blossom sits in peace on the thumb, resting with its feet in the spring, in full bloom, as a symbol of healing.
Aside from the key image of the hands and the spring, other images symbolize the history and specific trademarks of the Hot Springs.
The central figure of the Mockingbird represents not only the state bird of Arkansas, as a bird that always finds shiny objects, the Mockingbird pulls on a golden dice which symbolizes the influence of gambling in the city’s history. The Mockingbird also supports a house on its back; the house holds fire inside, symbolizing both the warmth of Hot Springs, but also remembering the great fire of Hot Springs that greatly marks its history. Also note that the Mockingbird’s wing is that of the Diana fritillary, the state butterfly of Arkansas.
The white-tailed deer in the top corner has horns of crystal quartz.
Danaé Brissonnet is an international artist from Quebec, Canada who specializes in public murals, illustration, mask making and puppetry.
Her most recent colourful, fantastical folk inspired body of work is scattered from Taiwan, Mexico, USA, Canada to Morocco, as well as in India, west Africa, Belgium and Spain. Creating imagined worlds for the viewer, her work invites a deeper consideration into the power of symbolism, myth and metaphor.
Brissonnet’s art enforces connections between her work, herself, and the public in which it engages. Most importantly, her process is about becoming involved in communities where she can tell stories of peoples, their land, and their culture. Wherever Brissonnet is creating there is likely to be a workshop, where she can share her experience. She seeks locations where art is not accessible and finds importance in working with children to inspire them to paint their stories with whatever materials they have.
Brissonnet's professional work is what enables her to travel to these conflict zones and rural communities. Leaving a colourful trace, her art has a feeling of accessibility as she visually translates her story, and that of others. Brissonnet’s work exists as an imprint of change and inspiration for places she feels need it the most.