Letter: A dedication to heroes everywhere

To the Editor,

COVID-19 has changed everything – work, school, travel, recreation, family time, even our definition of a hero. Our conventional vision of heroes is forever altered.  Suddenly, healthcare workers, EMTs, nursing home personnel, food bank staff, grocery store clerks, pharmacy technicians and transportation workers, to name just a few, have joined the ranks of heroes who serve the needs of our community despite the inherent risks of delivering those services in the midst of a global pandemic.

But perhaps some of the biggest heroes of all are the neighbors and friends who have come together to comfort and support each other during some of the most challenging times we’ve ever experienced.

It is with this redefined notion that heroes are everywhere within our community in mind that the ArtWorks of Westfield team set out on a mission early in 2020, shortly after the uncertainties of the covid pandemic turned out lives inside out, to bring the community together through a community art project  while recognizing the many heroes among us. Specifically, a community mural! We did it and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime. The Heroes Are Everywhere Community Mural will be finished this week. It’s nearly time to dedicate the piece to the city and to the community in which it resides.

The confluence of so many organizations, businesses, community and civic leaders, ArtWorks Westfield members and community members from far and wide made this mural possible. The community spirit and engagement was intoxicating, the talent and creativity energizing. Experiencing so many volunteers of all ages coming together to share their time and talent to paint this magnificent piece at a time when folks were starving for social interaction demonstrated the power of our community to overcome adversity. Casual acquaintances and complete strangers worked side by side for several Saturdays in June in early July as if they knew each other for years. The instant camaraderie of community was palpable and inspiring.

What began as series of online community meetings, text and email suggestions, rough sketches and conceptual drawings evolved and transformed into a stunning piece of color and imagery that feels like an art gallery collection, begging to be carefully studied and viewed from many different angles to fully appreciate the significance of the work and digest the many subtleties and nuances within each frame.  I could stand there for hours absorbing the majesty of the work.

It was created by our community, for our community and reflects the fabric our community. It is powerful. It is emotional. It is uplifting. It is stunning! We are thrilled to share The Heroes Are Everywhere Community Mural with our great city.

There are so many folks to thank for their generosity of time, talent and financial support. Several local businesses and organizations were instrumental in bring this project to fruition including the Westfield Cultural Council, The Lumber Center, Rocky’s Ace Hardware and The Home Depot. The Friends of the Columba Greenway Rail Trail helped with site selection and ArtWorks of Westfield Inc provided organizational infrastructure and financial support. Westfield City Councilors Bridget Matthews-Kane and Ralph Figgy were closely involved in every step the project. Everyone at city hall cheered us on.

The creative energy of the project was driven by two extraordinary talented, highly experienced and community centric artists. Westfield artist and ArtWorks of Westfield board member Shannon Chiba, along with Easthampton artist Sarah Kinnie, formed the creative engine that powered this project. Their passion, talent and pure love for this creation radiates from each of the seven distinctive but interconnected tableaus that make up The Heroes Are Everywhere Community Mural.

Located in the Columbia Greenway Rail Trail underpass at the junction of Taylor Avenue and Ashley Street with Hedges Avenue and St. Denis Street, the mural will be officially dedicated on Saturday August 22, 2020 beginning at 11am. Several local and state officials will be on hand for this event. The public is cordially invited to attend. This mural has inspired and touched so many of us in the community. Please come out with masks on, remain six feet apart and join us as we give this mural to the City of Westfield and the Heroes all around us!

.About ArtWorks of Westfield Inc.

ArtWorks of Westfield Inc., a local arts & cultural organization promoting the rich and talented artistic

diversity of Westfield and the surrounding communities, is a tax exempt organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501 (c) (3). Membership and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Our mission is to create and promote the widest variety of Cultural Arts, Literary Arts, Musical Events, and Performing Arts for the Westfield Community and to collaborate with businesses and invested groups to develop and maintain venues for presentations and performances.


Bill Westerlind, President
ArtWorks of Westfield Inc.

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