A Message from the Muralist
A bridge connects divided land and makes common ground. That is the central
metaphor of this effort. Bridges connect.
William M. Cochran, muralist, near the stone representing a quilt
Building a Bridge
A bridge like the one I have painted is built with stones of all sizes and
colors. A good stonemason understands how the different colors and sizes
relate to each other. The beauty in each stone becomes most evident when
the stone is seen in relation to the whole. Diversity and balance are the
keys. No stone can be removed without diminishing - and weakening - the
A Shared Value
Differences between people are often seen as barriers rather than as bridges.
People are defined by those differences, rather than by their place within
the whole. The small illusions I create with paint are nothing compared
to the large illusions we all insist on being fooled by every day. What
if our sense that we are separated from each other by all kinds of differences
and barriers is simply an illusion, no more real than the images I paint?
What if we are all connected in ways we don't fully understand, connected
not by modems and phone lines, not by highway systems and laws, but in ways that
are less obvious, more subtle, and more profound?
The Spirit of Community
What sets this bridge apart is that it is a co-creation. We asked, "What object represents the spirit of community to you?" Reading
peoples ideas as they pour into the
office is an extraordinary
experience. They show that a universal bridge already exists within and
between people, despite appearances to the contrary. That bridge, that sense
of connectedness is the spirit of community.
I believe it is no illusion.
Cochran researching stone architecture at Yale University in 1993
You are the Connection
In Community Bridge, that sense of connectedness has been likened
to an unfound door, a
forgotten song, and a light within.
The mystery of
these three images echoes the mystery of the symbols found in the bridge
stonework. Visitors see scores of small symbols all over the bridge,
but the age, race, gender, economic status and personal history of the people
who suggested them are unknown. A symbol of, say, a spiral or a well or a hand
offering a key may have come from anyone, from
a young farmer, an attorney,
a schoolgirl or boy, a person without money, an architect, a mother, a respected
community leader, a four year old, a minister, a teenager, a doctor, or
someone whose ancestors came from Germany, from England, from Africa, or
from points more immediate or more distant.
These seeming differences disappear into the stonework and create a bridge
with a common spirit.
That spirit is not logical. In fact, it defies logic. It is a feeling that
runs very deep and is characterized by peace. That door, that light, that
song is found inside you, within you. It is not an illusion.
"Unity" in sign language
It is also found within others. Many selfless gifts of time and funds and
energy and ideas have come from thousands of people to build this bridge.
It reflects the creativity, imagination and commitment of each and every
segment of a very diverse community. This experience of connection, this Community
Bridge, is your own.
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