Textual Description of "Moon, Turn The Tides Gently, Gently Away"

Artwork at the Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA

The wall murals painted in each of the two activities rooms were the result of two meetings between the people that most often use the space and me. The first meeting was a gathering of ideas, and the second was a presentation of rough sketches based on the consolidation of ideas: members wanted to see the sun and the moon shining in their space. The challenge, I originally thought, was to design something many people could work on at one time without getting in each other’s way. As things turned out, I had only one consistent co-worker in the project, Rob Fuller. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Rob, who had some serious house-painting experience under his belt and was a huge help.

The notion of bringing the outside into this windowless environment seemed a good one to me. I wanted the final images to be uplifting and encouraging, but not in a condescending or complicated way. This is why I thought using quotes from contemporary people would add not only some amount of sophistication to the coloring-book-style of the images, but also a more personal dimension to the walls.

The image on the first wall includes a path disappearing between rolling hills, but leading toward the sun. The sun lights the path and invites us on a journey. The words “Keep me walking in the sunshine,” a quote from a James Taylor song, reflect the yearning in many hearts: watch over me, guide me, bless me, and allow me some happiness.

The second wall also reflects a plea to something greater than ourselves, something apart from ourselves: “Moon, turn the tides gently, gently away,” a quote from the late Jimi Hendrix. This wall is a response to the other side of our lives: self-doubt, conflict, dwindled hope. These are emotions that most people have experienced to some degree at one time or another, so I think it’s easy to relate to the beseeching tone.

I have been caught up in using spirals in my art since I can remember, and these walls both incorporate them. There is something hopeful about them to me. They are open-ended and whimsical, introspective and mysterious, ancient and modern, natural and mechanical. These contradictions reinforce a belief of mine that even the simplest of things have multi-faceted significance, and this principle is extended to our consideration of one another. Each one of us is much more than one thing.

It is my hope that these murals will bring some amount of contentment and tranquility to those that see them. Each of us travel a unique path, but I am always comforted believing we are in good company in this great big universe we find ourselves in.

Missi Berquist, artist


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