Mural-in-a-day raises funds for teen scholarships

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Tue., Aug. 27, 2013
Up on a hydraulic lift, Faith Wibberley refines the details of her rose and water imagery. Photos by janice Steinhagen.
Up on a hydraulic lift, Faith Wibberley refines the details of her rose and water imagery. Photos by janice Steinhagen.

A colorful mural, painted singlehandedly over a 24-hour period, provided both a facelift for a drab brick and concrete wall on Chestnut Street and scholarships for teen character-building programs. Norwich illustrator Faith Wibberley started her mural on the wall of the Spirit of Broadway Theater at noon on Aug. 20 and worked with only short intermittent breaks until she completed the project at noon on Aug. 21.

The project, conceived as a fundraiser for youth from Peniel Church, was designed to raise money to enable inner-city teens to attend an eight-week character-building program. Wibberley said the idea for the project came to her through prayer. “I wanted to help with fundraising, but I didn’t know how,” she said. “I know it sounds crazy, but this really came from the Lord. I’m an artist. That’s my skill. Our young people are a huge, huge asset to our church. I felt like it’s the right time to pledge ourselves to help kids to participate.”

“This is an awesome way to bring everyone together,” said Tariko Satterfield, a co-worker of Wibberley’s who supervises after-school programs and in-school suspension for Norwich public schools and who came to help out with the project. “It’s like a breath of fresh air watching this happen. Anything that’s going to give life to this city – of course you want to be a part of that.”

A half-dozen teens from Peniel Church also watched the whole process from start to finish, camping out in the parking lot overnight in a demonstration of solidarity. “It was nice – no bugs out for the first time,” said Reyni Sexius. “I did some Bible homework. It was honestly fun. We were guessing because no one knew what [Wibberley] was going to make.”

The end product depicts a large red rose awash with water being poured from a watering can. Wibberley said that the imagery is meant to evoke a rebirth of the Rose City. While she did all the painting herself, “It’s been a huge team effort, with everyone playing their part,” she said. “It’s been woven together so beautifully.”

Sherwin-Williams donated the paint for the project, said Wibberley’s father, Sam Wibberley. The City of Norwich Department of Public Works donated the use of a hydraulic lift, which enabled Wibberley to move around her “canvas” at will, and Norwich Public Utilities contributed halogen floodlights and a generator to facilitate round-the-clock painting.

Wibberley also had help priming the wall and setting up cameras for a live feed as well as time-lapse photography, which can be viewed on the project website. “All the details have worked out amazingly,” said the artist.

“This part of town is really forgotten, yet this street is so bloody busy,” said Spirit of Broadway Artistic Director Brett Bernardini. He said he envisioned extending the painted embellishment along the adjacent parking garage wall. “If she’s game for it, we’ll do it,” he said. “Maybe continue the water theme. That would be spectacular.”

As of press time, Wibberley was halfway to her goal of $10,000 for the scholarship fund. Donations are still being accepted at Funds will also be earmarked to establish a youth center in Greeneville.

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