Locals lend hand to College Square Mall mural

The “We are Morristown” mural was revealed Monday evening at College Square Mall. Pictured from left: Melanie Hunt, ELL teacher, Morristown-Hamblen High School East; Betsy Hurst, H.O.L.A. Lakeway program co-director; Jessica Bailiff-Noe, H.O.L.A. Lakeway program coordinator; K.C. Culberson-Alvarado, co-founder of H.O.L.A. Lakeway; Deb Miksa, art coordinator of HC*EXCELL and Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney.

Lakeway Area residents of varying backgrounds lent their hands to an art project celebrating diversity.

Many nationalities are represented in the “We are Morristown” mural which was introduced on Monday at College Square Mall.

The mural is on display across from Toro Mexican Grill at the back entrance to the mall through September.

The mural was painted and assembled by Deb Miksa, art coordinator of HC*EXCELL. It is a collection of more than 90 people’s hands. This project was a collaboration with H.O.L.A. Lakeway and HC*EXCELL’s Arts Build Skills Initiative.

“We strive to help people understand how important it is to celebrate the beauty in our differences and that working together makes strong and happy communities,” Miksa said. “The arts help us to explore and learn about cultures, history, literature, music, and so much more.”

Families and individuals who attended the recent H.O.L.A. Lakeway International Festival were invited to trace and decorate their hands, celebrating their background and heritage. Those hands, decorated with features about each individual, were attached to letters spelling Morristown by Miksa. Many of those hands have the nations represented where the people came from.

Mayor Gary Chesney came to see the mural on Monday evening, along with many others.

“It’s a nice example of collaboration with HC*EXCELL and to reflect the diversity we have in our community,” Chesney said. “HC*EXCELL’s emphasis on art and public education has long been an asset for our community. H.O.L.A. Lakeway is doing an excellent job of making the Hispanic community more inclusive in our town,”

Chesney said that the “We are Morristown” theme was appropriate for the mural.

“It was a chance for a number of people to put their heritage there. This was an example of we all come from somewhere. We like this program.”

Also present for the unveiling were ELL teacher Melanie Hunt of Morristown-Hamblen High School East; H.O.L.A. Lakeway Co-Director Betsy Hurst, H.O.L.A. Lakeway Program Coordinator Jessica Bailiff-Noe, and H.O.L.A. Lakeway Co-Founder K.C. Culberson-Alvarado.