Power of Words

City project postponed

Artist Emmalene Oysti is seen on a scaffold sketching a draft of the Power of Words mural onto the wall of the former MacDonald’s Music building, located on the corner of Third and Ohio streets. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)


ARQUETTE — The Power of Words Project, a community mural project, was well underway last week and set to be complete by Sept. 22 when POWP creator Mia Tavonatti suffered an injury.

The project has now been postponed until next year.

The artists to complete the project, a group of student, community and visiting artists as well as Tavonatti, had completed sketching the mural on the exterior wall of the former MacDonald’s Music building located on the corner of Third and Ohio streets in Marquette. The sketch will have to be redone next season.

The Marquette mural project initially launched in May and asked the community for donations to fund the project and also to choose one word they feel sums up the community. The nearly 1,500 community members who voted chose the word “Natural.”

Once chosen, Tavonatti, who has completed similar murals in Gladstone, Manistique and other locations, gets to designing the mural around that word.

Power of Words Project artists are seen working on the mural last week. The project was postponed until next summer due to POWP creator Mia Tavonatti being injured. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

“Basically, my theme is around the idea of mother nature and the cycles of life: life, birth, death; the seasons of life: spring, summer, fall, winter, so it’s a compilation of some images from the local area combined with some surreal design aspects,” Tavonatti said.

Her design features two photographs from local photographers of Dead River Falls and Presque Isle Park as well as other natural elements that can be spotted in the area such as an owl, berries, flowers, fungus and pancake ice. Within the mural will also be one of Tavonatti’s friends who represents mother nature, complete with an eagle’s nest crown.

“She’s the human element in this and the relationship to nature,” she said. “Because … we’re a part of nature, so she’s kind of a mother nature figure.”

“Natural” will be the center of the mural and serve as a mantra for Marquette.

“A mantra is something that through repetition changes consciousness, changes how people think,” Tavonatti said. “They obviously want to celebrate the natural, see more of the natural retained in their lives. They don’t want to lose that, but you take that word and reinforce it with beautiful, well crafted art work and it just amplifies the strength of that mantra.”

Paintbrushes for the POWP mural are pictured. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

She hopes once completed, the mural spreads lightheartedness and inspires its viewers.

“That’s my focus,” Tavonatti said. “They’re not controversial, they’re not in your face, they’re really designed to uplift and inspire. Even right here, they can also physically connect … It changes how people feel in the space, changes how they feel emotionally.”

Tavonatti was surprised the Marquette community came to her for a mural because she sees the city as up and coming, but does feel it lacks public art. The mural is “going to fill in those spaces. It’s going to be the connective tissue that really takes it to the next level of a cultural city,” she said.

When the project picks back up next summer, the artists will work around 80 hours a week to complete the project. Each hour is valuable to the artists who have to work around the weather and the city’s proximity to the Lake Superior makes for more challenges than other areas.

But the project is not about the finished product, Tavonatti said.

“Once this is done, it’s great you’ll have a mural, but for the month before that you have performers out there all day long, everyday, long hours,” she said. “How often do you get a chance to watch an artist create something like that?”

Tavonatti’s Svelata Foundation, Svelata, meaning “unveiled” in Italian, is meant to invite people into an artist’s creative process, which will help to spread an appreciation for the arts.

“You do that by exposing to people what it takes to create, so I invite them into the process as much as I can,” Tavonatti said. “…So people, when they can watch that, they start to really develop an idea of what goes into something like this and then they start to really appreciate it and respect it and then they’re more likely to support it.”

Tavonatti hopes once back on schedule the community will take part in watching the mural come to life.

Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is tcarey@miningjournal.net.