Jes McMillan, founder of The Mosaic Institute of Greater Dayton, was inspired by the release of doves at a vigil following the Aug. 4, 2019, mass shooting.
She and her team designed the mural, “a memorial of loss but also of the community coming together,” so the public could take part in its creation.
Upturned hands at the bottom of the mosaic signify the release of the nine doves, each one representing a person killed.
More than 300 people placed one and two-inch porcelain pieces in the sky surrounding the doves. Many wrote messages, prayers and hopes on the individual tiles.
Among the sentiments on the tiles are “Dayton Loves You,” “Be Kind To Each Other,” and “God’s Angels.”
“Participating in the creation of the mural helps people examine and work out emotions and feelings in a visual way,” McMillan said. “This was art as a therapeutic first response to tragedy.”
The 5 feet tall, 6 feet wide mural, weighing 200 pounds, has been placed near a seating area in the lobby, giving the public a place to reflect.
“It’s quiet and calm in there. It’s a secure place where you can spend some time with the piece,” McMillan said. “I think it is also a place of honor in Dayton. Politicians and leaders and people invested in the community go through those doors.”
The Contemporary Dayton curates art for City Hall and “9 Doves” was designed to exemplify healing and community through creation, said Eva Buttacovoli, executive director and chief curator.
“The work, in commemorating our collective loss, is perfectly placed — central in the location of City Hall and central to the consciousness of our hearts,” she said.