Artist Statement: Yavapai Exceptional Industries Mural

By Yarrow Corymb

A portion of my childhood was spent living in a group home alongside adults with developmental disabilities. I often ponder that experience and question my own relevance in the world: What abilities can I be grateful for? What are my own disabilities? Based on this experience, I was interested in working with Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI), a local organization that provides job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services for developmentally disabled adults. As my first public mural project, I needed to research materials and permitting.  I worked up a proposal in dialogue with YEI, acquired a city sign permit. and was donated scaffolding to accommodate the twenty-foot wall.

As a newcomer at YEI, I worked with a group on several of their volunteer outreach events. While observing the YEI community, I’ve noticed that a familiar stigma of disability is turned on its head. Instead of the common misconception that developmentally disabled adults are entirely dependent, the individuals at YEI are anything but needy. Each person contributes to the economy through skilled work and paying taxes, and many volunteer their time bringing food to the elderly, and giving back to their local community in myriad ways.

One of my goals for the mural was to transform any stereotype the viewer might have about disability by highlighting an inspiring and exceptional group, who in my experience live life to the fullest, laugh often and demand nothing but respect.  My background in painting and photography offers me some methods to achieve this renewed visibility through art. The camera enables me to capture a series of characteristic expressions, which allow intimate study of the face as portraiture. The photograph can then be projected larger than life on a canvas or building. By working from a projection I can create a more direct relationship between the painting and the subject. The large scale of the subject reiterates the subject’s significance.

The size, color and composition of the mural allude to the meaning of the piece.  While the entire mural is completed in paint, the layout is sourced from photographic images to mimic photomontage. By working with combined photographic imagery and a monochromatic value scale, I am attempting to flatten the picture plane so that no single person recedes or comes forward. In turn, this acts as a metaphor for an overall sense of equality that all the subjects embody.

Special thanks to: Ron Aguilera, Julie Comnick, Brad Newman, Josh Bradley, Kerry Skarbakka, Theresa Thurlow, Stephanie Gaiero, Alec Robinson, Matt Black, Jenny K. Eisele, Matt VanAnda, Jonathan Webb, David Nassay, Chris Bell, Tyler Evans, Don Next Door, Jeff Cosgrove, Yavapai Exceptional Industries, Habitat for Humanity, Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation, Prescott College Student Union Board, City of Prescott and many more whose help made this mural possible!