BERLIN – The founder of a project aimed at bringing a series of flower murals to towns across the nation made his way to Worcester County this week.
Throughout the week, community members joined Tim Gibson, artist and founder of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project to create public art installations for Berlin, the Worcester County Developmental Center and Cedar Chapel Special School.
Gibson said the mission of the Ten Thousand Flowers Project is to bring communities together to create one large mural consisting of 10,000 flowers spread over hundreds of small towns across the country.
“I left on tour this June and started at the tip of Maine,” he said. “My hope is to bring this project to each state.”
Gibson said the Ten Thousand Flowers Project was formed in June of 2018, when he helped residents in his own hometown create a community mural.
“I quickly realized this was something I could do across the country,” he said.
Gibson said he began his east coast tour of the U.S. in June, going from town to town and creating flower murals with the help of those in the community. As of this week, the Ten Thousand Flowers Project has completed nearly 30 murals and more than 600 flowers.
Gibson said the process is simple. After a wall has been selected and prepped, he sketches each mural and guides community members as they paint each flower. Once finished, Gibson then outlines each flower and touches up where needed.
“They have ownership of these murals …,” he said. “They belong to the town and are painted by the community. It’s my favorite part of this whole thing.”
Gibson said he arrived in Berlin last Tuesday, and started going to businesses and shops seeking out those interest in having a mural. It was during this search that he met Baked Dessert Café owner Robin Tomaselli, who helped him in his endeavors, and local artist Jon Donato.
“He works mostly with panels,” Gibson said. “So I met with him and figured I could paint the mural on panels. That way when it gets the proper approval – because Berlin has a historic district – the community can place the mural wherever they want.”
On Monday, Gibson teamed up with Berlin Arts & Entertainment, Donato and clients and staff at the Worcester County Developmental Center to begin work on the panels, which will be installed at a location in Berlin at a later date.
“They offered their space to set the panels up and paint the mural,” he said. “They also offered their clients to help us.”
Jack Ferry, executive director of the developmental center, said more than 60 clients and staff were involved in the project.
“They knew they were part of something bigger than themselves,” he said. “They feel good because they want to be a part of the community and this project allowed for that to happen.”
In addition to creating a mural for the town, Gibson and community members also painted a mural at the developmental center and a panel that will be installed in the center’s board room.
Ferry said the project aligns with the agency’s efforts to turn the facility into a center for the arts.
“It was a thrill to be asked to participant and it was fun for everybody …,” he said. “To be involved in this project while we were making this transition into the arts, it was just wonderful timing.”
This week, Gibson also traveled to Cedar Chapel Special School to involve students in his nationwide project. On Wednesday, more than 50 children were able to assist in painting a flower mural on one of the school’s walls.
Art teacher Mary Beth Lampman said she reached out to Gibson on Saturday after seeing his bus – adorned with brightly colored flowers – in the parking lot of a local grocery store.
“When I saw him come out I approached him, talked to him a little bit and asked if he would be interested in coming to the school,” she said. “He said yes, so we set it up this past weekend.”
Lampman said the art project has brought the school together and allows the students to express themselves.
“Everyone enjoys art and creating, kids especially,” she said. “They don’t put barriers and boundaries on themselves like we do. It’s a form of expression, and they love it.”
Gibson will make his way south as he continues his east coast tour.
For more information, visit tenthousandflowersproject.com or the “Ten Thousand Flowers Project” Facebook page.
Donations – which will go toward the purchase of paint, supplies and gas – can also be made to the project’s GoFundMe page.