‘Power of Words’ mural unveiled
MARQUETTE — It was a “natural” way for a mural to be officially introduced to Marquette society.
The long-awaited mural on one side of the BeWell Marquette building at Third and Ohio streets was unveiled to the public on Wednesday as part of the Power of Words Project, the 10th such mural in the Upper Peninsula.
The leader of the project, the Southern California-based Mia Tavonatti, who is originally from Iron Mountain, attended Wednesday’s ceremony.
Once a community selects the word for a particular mural — in this case, it was “natural” — Tavonatti picks a team of artists to paint the mural.
The artistic team for the Marquette mural included Tara Tavonatti, Michele Tuccini, Sabrina Langdon, Taryn Okesson, Emmalene Oysti and Patty Gagnon.
In 2012, Mia Tavonatti started the Power of Words Project that resulted in murals being created throughout the U.P.
“We have five in Iron Mountain, we have three in Manistique, one in Gladstone and one in Marquette, and hopefully this won’t be the last,” she said.
Community help came in various forms. For example, Mia Tavonatti said she contacted local photographers to find research materials for the local flora and fauna. Also, local businesses fed her team every day.
Tristan Luoma, arts and senior services coordinator for the city of Marquette, said that although the mural was privately funded on non-public property, the city advocated for the project.
“In 2019, the community was asked to vote for one word that defines the vision for the future of Marquette,” Luoma said. “The word ‘natural’ was one of 15 words nominated, and received an overwhelming number of votes.”
Luoma said the project started that year, but due to unforseen circumstances and the COVID-19 pandemic, wasn’t completed until now.
At the ceremony, sheets of paper showing items such as a dragonfly and a frog were distributed for kids to find in the mural.
However, building understanding and camaraderie is a major mission of the mural, he said.
“It’s our sincere hope that this mural goes beyond beautification to create dialogue through it and be able to educate people,” Luoma said. “Above all, we hope that art will continue to be the vehicle that helps tell our story.”
Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.