TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - New artwork added to help beautify downtown Toledo was added to landscape Friday.
The mural added has significant meaning for our community.
Many gathered at 411 Michigan Avenue where the final panel of a glass mosaic mural was ceremoniously put into place.
The mural is called Pieces to Peace and it focuses on mental health and homelessness, with the goal of social change.
Lead artist on the project, Gail Christofferson has been working on the project for the past year and a half.
"This mural represents mental health disease and homelessness and we feel that by having art, people can start a conversation about both of those things, and maybe with an open healthy conversation, we can help reduce the stigma," she said.
It is 20 x 20 feet, features 35 tiles and is adjacent to the "Food for Thought" charitable distribution center.
An estimated more than 90,000 pieces of glass make up the mosaic.
There were 300 people who worked on the mural piece by piece in conjunction with the downtown library.
About 16,000 will pass by it every day.
It is truly a collaboration of creative minds to raise community awareness for the issues of homelessness and how mental illness can be a contributing factor.
"There must have been some forces at work because this is the location for a Saturday morning 'Food for Thought' and they provide food and counseling and fellowship for our homeless community, so it was meant to be in this location," said Christofferson.
There are 3,223 homeless people in downtown Toledo alone. Half of them have been diagnosed with mental illness.
Presentations by all those involved, including some of the homeless artists who contributed, took place onsite along with food trucks over lunchtime today.
"This is a personal statement for me that I wanted to do. A piece of art that addressed mental health, disease, and homelessness, and so I collaborated with several people in town and we got a gr ant from the Lovell Foundation and produced this mural; and basically, the visual is about, the face is fractured like mental health disease is, and yet, the eyes say, 'look at me, I'm still a real person even though I may be mentally ill or homeless," and then, a lot of times mental illness lead to homelessness, and so, that's what the visual is about. But we want to make sure that the visual had the light in it, is in the window, there's a light at the end of the tunnel, and also, there's room for growth, and that's why there's the trees in the mural," said Christofferson.
The mural at the corner of North Michigan and Adams Street is permanent, and aims to impact all who see it for years to come.