HALLOWELL — A high school senior is coordinating the creation of a mural on a prominent building as part of Hallowell’s efforts to be a “welcoming city.”

August Rudy, the daughter of City Manager Nate Rudy, has taken the lead as part of her senior project for the Watershed School in Camden. She was looking for an idea for a project when Hallowell’s council adopted a resolution declaring it a “welcoming city” and decided a large-scale community art project would be a good way to show Hallowell is serious about that message.

“A welcoming city is one where everyone not only feels physically safe, but they also feel no need to suppress or hide facets of themselves that others may not share,” said Rudy, 18, via email.

Deborah Fahy, executive director of the Harlow Gallery, said the owner of the building at 121 Water St. — where Berry and Berry Floral is located — came to a meeting of the Arts and Cultural Committee and said he wanted to put a mural on the side of the building. After checking with the city because the building is in a historic district, the committee decided there should be a public process and a call for art to create a series of temporary murals.

Rudy and Fahy have reached out to school groups and community organizations and hope also to receive submissions from local artists. The artists will use a 4-foot-square panel to depict what a welcoming city looks like to them. Fahy said she hopes to have the mural installed this summer.

“The fun is to give the idea to the artists and see what happens,” Fahy said. “Hallowell is a liberal town, but if you’re going to be known as a welcoming city, you have to be welcoming to everyone,” she said.

Rudy isn’t designing one of the panels for this project, but she is working with local artist Chris Cart to create a second welcoming mural of her own design during the summer.

Rudy said the message of a welcoming city is important so everyone feels empowered and is provided the same opportunities. This political environment, she said, also calls for protecting and defending the rights of immigrants and refugees.

“In order for someone to feel welcome, a display more profound that passive acceptance is needed,” she said. “Actual empathy and concern are called for.”

Though she said she considers her generation to be generally more progressive than previous generations, Rudy said not all her peers are willing to empathize with people who are different from them. There is still a long way to go, she said, before America becomes a place where everyone, including immigrants and minorities, really feel safe and accepted.

“Projecting a very direct welcoming message is a step in the right direction,” Rudy said.

Rudy’s father, who became Hallowell’s city manager last June, said he hopes the installation encourages young people to participate in Hallowell’s creative economy. As a father, he’s pleased his daughter has the opportunity for hands-on civic engagement and community building with people who are different from her.

“Hallowell has a wealth of cultural institutions and arts practitioners, and weaving those assets into a welcoming message for visitors, guests and new residents is part of our community outreach and downtown advertising program,” the city manager said.

Fahy said the committee is preparing for next year’s Water Street reconstruction project by brainstorming ideas for public events and celebrations meant to keep people’s spirits high during what everyone expects will be a disruptive few months. It’s possible there will be other mural projects that precede the reconstruction, and one idea calls for having a day of painting on Water Street before it gets torn apart.

Nate Rudy announced an anonymous donor has pledged $1,000 toward the mural project. Fahy said the money will be used for supplies including paint, the panels and the cost of installation, and any remaining funds may be used to fund future art-based, community development activities related to the mural project.

Submissions are due to August Rudy by April 14 and can be sent to [email protected] Panels are expected to be available to designers May 1, with finished pieces due May 24.

Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, led a group that presented a resolution to the City Council stating “the City of Hallowell welcomes immigrants and all new residents and visitors to our community, and supports their paths toward citizenship, recognizing the extraordinary efforts and resilience of the individuals who move to our community under the most difficult of circumstances, and who face barriers including unfamiliar language and culture.” The resolution came shortly after President Donald Trump signed his controversial travel ban, which prohibited immigration and travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Warren was one of several people who spoke at a rally in a new Iraqi-owned grocery store in Hallowell in opposition of Trump’s initial travel ban.

August Rudy said she was excited about the proclamation and what it means to people who feel like outsiders.

“We want them to know they are not just accepted, but welcomed, in central Maine communities like Hallowell,” she said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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