Joplin tornado launched a series of public art throughout the community

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JOPLIN, Mo. — In the wake of the tornado, public art began to appear more and more throughout Joplin.

Connect-2-Culture had funding for a project prior to the tornado and decided for the first community mural following the disaster. Reporter, Steffen Reals, spoke with the voices behind the mural about it’s meaning and how it continues to impact the city to this day.

Sharon Beshore, Connect2Culture chair, says, “We weren’t sure in the beginning if we should have the mural go forward. But the Artist, Dave Loewenstein, he encouraged us that art is healing and he saw this as a real benefit.”

Shortly after the tornado occurred back in 2011, healing began. Work started on “The Butterfly Effect: Dreams take flight.” This wasn’t going to be any ordinary mural though, Artist, Dave Loewenstein wanted something more. Children and even local artists got involved.

“It was a community based mural, there were a lot of people involved on the design team as well as children that had workshops that contributed design work, “said Emily Frankoski, Connect2Culture Director.

Kyle Mckenzie, Mural Assistant Artist, says, “But then there were, I don’t remember exactly the numbers but I want to say 150 or 200 or more people who actually painted on community painting days.”

Not only highlighting the community, but a symbol that has become famous throughout the city.

“Children had seen what they called butterfly-people or butterfly-angels, and those were in the drawings.”

Beshore.

“It became this symbol of hope after the tornado,” said Frankoski.

While also creating a prosperous foundation for local public artists.

“Before the tornado there were about 10 or so murals or pieces of public art, not just murals, but sculptures as well. After the tornado there’s more than 50 pieces of public art since that point,” said Frankoski.

Taking the Joplin community into a brighter future.

“It’s a metamorphosis, it’s a transformation, and I think that transformation for Joplin was what we were all looking for too.” said Beshore.

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