Wall of Hope for Threshold Clubhouse, 2007
ARTIST: ANDRIA LINN
Location: 136 E Chapel Hill Street (on south-facing wall of 9th Street Bakery)
The Wall of Hope mural projectarose as a fundraising effort for the nonprofit organization Threshold Clubhouse, located in East Durham. Since its opening in 1985, the organization has supported adults who struggle with severe and persistent mental illnesses. The organization aims to keep members out of the hospital, advance their education, help them to succeed in their professions, and achieve their personal goals. “Threshold provides support… in good times and bad,” said Marya McNeish, Threshold’s development director. Threshold also provides pre-vocational, vocational, social and educational opportunities for its members. One of their most outwardly successful programs is the “Transitional Employment Program” in which a number of local businesses, including Ninth Street Bakery, collaborate with Threshold to hire its members.
Wall of Hope is a celebration of life and sends a message of community empowerment. The connected chain of individuals depicted represents themes of togetherness and support, while the open hands and doves portray love and friendship. Through a variety of brilliant colors and figures in her mural, Andria Linn shows viewers that mental illness affects everyone in a variety of ways. It can mark the lives of our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family members. It does not discriminate and it isn’t the choice of those it affects.
Linn herself has struggled with mental illness, making her an appropriate collaborator for the project; not only could she use the stories and ideas she recorded while visiting with members of Threshold, but she could also bring her own personal experience to the process. Linn understood that the mural needed to send a universal message to the entire community. It also needed to tell those with mental illness that they do not have to embark on their journey alone and that they have the support of the entire community behind them. To further express this, Linn held a community event in which members of Threshold and the general public left their footprints on the mural’s border. Our city’s current and then-Mayor, Bill Bell, was the first to mark his footprint.
Despite the difficult subject behind the mural’s conception, Linn does not focus on the darker side of mental illness. Instead, she focuses on a message that resonates with everyone so that it can serve the entire community. Linn describes the Wall of Hope as a work in which “Each element of the mural orchestrates symbolism and a medley of hope. It creates an example of what we all experience everyday…It is conceptualized to communicate the unity that brings us all together with a harmonious blend and fusion of color and strength that joins us in similarity and against all odds.”