Jes McMillan, founder of The Mosaic Institute of Greater Dayton, found inspiration in the release of doves during a vigil following the Aug. 4 shooting and came up with the design for “9 Doves”. She describes the piece as a “memorial of loss but also of the community coming together.”
“I want people to remember,” McMillan said. “Each of the doves are different and they are all beautiful.”
Upturned hands lining the bottom of the mural “signify the release of the doves,” McMillan said. “They are free, they are ascending in the work and the community is letting them go.”
In what would normally require three to four weeks of work, McMillan, Vincent Detrick and Noah Faler created the doves within the 5 feet tall, 6 feet wide mosaic in four days – finishing just hours before the public would have a chance to contribute to the piece at the Gem City Shine event.
Eva Buttacavoli, executive director of The Contemporary Dayton, tasked McMillan with the project in the hours after the shooting. “Mosaic is so great for the community to do because literally everyone puts a piece in to create a larger work,” she said.
A team from the Mosaic Institute set up the mural in the parking lot of Omega Records and assisted more than 300 people in placing one and two-inch porcelain pieces in the sky surrounding the doves.
Many wrote their feelings on the tiles. “All the pieces around the doves are laid by Daytonians and have special messages, words, prayers and hopes,” McMillan said.
Among the sentiments on the tiles are “Be Kind to Each Other,” Love Conquers All” and “Dayton Loves You.” Leaving messages on the tiles was cathartic for many. “They got to say what they needed to say and release it into the mural.”
The mural is intended to be placed in a sidewalk, but the future location has not yet been determined.
“This is a forever piece of artwork,” McMillan said. “Not only is it a memorial signifying our loss, but also how our community has come together to create this remembrance of them.”