Mural for Ukraine, defaced and restored, is now a symbol that 'love will prevail'
The original mural in Gig Harbor, Wash. was a simple design: an outline of Ukraine with two bold stripes of yellow and blue across it. In the middle, a sunflower, Ukraine's national flower. Along with a simple message: "Stand with Ukraine. Love will prevail."
Artist Hillarie Isackson signed up to host Ukrainian refugees but she wanted to do more. She was inspired to create a mural by other artists supporting Ukrainians. She then learned about a local employee who just returned to Ukraine to retrieve her grandmother from the war-torn country. She wanted to complete the mural to welcome them home.
She painted the mural on the side of Hart Studio, the gallery she runs in Gig Harbor.
Two days after the mural was complete, Isackson woke up to numerous notifications. The mural had been vandalized.
It was covered in big splotches of red, white, and blue — the colors of the Russian flag. The people who vandalized the mural also left footprints around the area with the paint.
"Paint was dripping everywhere," Isackson said.
When she saw the damage, ideas of how to fix the mural began to bloom.
"We'll just put flowers there," Isackson said. "We'll cover it up, we will make something beautiful out of the mess."
But there was a problem: Isackson predominantly uses water-based paints. The vandals defaced the mural with oil-based paint. Isackson couldn't paint over the graffiti unless she got new materials.
That's when community members stepped in to help. They raised money to help pay for the materials Isackson needed. Meanwhile, other members of the artistic community pitched in, and local kids volunteered to scrub off the oil-based paint with paint thinner.
"People would drive by and yell out their windows, honking," Isackson explained. "We probably had at least four or five people at all times just hanging out just talking about what it meant to them to have this done. So, I just pushed through."
Isackson wanted to make sure the mural was complete for her new neighbors coming from Ukraine. So, she worked for 15 hours straight and late into the night. The canvas was lit by lights also provided by community members.
Now, the mural features both the Ukrainian and American flags with flowers, and the mural’s original message: “Stand with Ukraine. Love will prevail.”