A Message from the Muralist

William M. Cochran, muralist, near the stone representing a quilt
A bridge connects divided land and makes common ground. That is the central metaphor of this effort. Bridges connect.

Building a Bridge
A bridge like the one I have painted is built with stones of all sizes and colors. A good stonemason understands how the different colors and sizes relate to each other. The beauty in each stone becomes most evident when the stone is seen in relation to the whole. Diversity and balance are the keys. No stone can be removed without diminishing - and weakening - the bridge.

A Shared Value
Differences between people are often seen as barriers rather than as bridges. People are defined by those differences, rather than by their place within the whole. The small illusions I create with paint are nothing compared to the large illusions we all insist on being fooled by every day. What if our sense that we are separated from each other by all kinds of differences and barriers is simply an illusion, no more real than the images I paint?

What if we are all connected in ways we don't fully understand, connected not by modems and phone lines, not by highway systems and laws, but in ways that are less obvious, more subtle, and more profound?

The Spirit of Community
What sets this bridge apart is that it is a co-creation. We asked, "What object represents the spirit of community to you?" Reading peoples ideas as they pour into the office is an extraordinary
Cochran researching stone architecture at Yale University in 1993
experience. They show that a universal bridge already exists within and between people, despite appearances to the contrary. That bridge, that sense of connectedness is the spirit of community. I believe it is no illusion.

You are the Connection
In Community Bridge, that sense of connectedness has been likened to an unfound door, a forgotten song, and a light within. The mystery of these three images echoes the mystery of the symbols found in the bridge stonework. Visitors see scores of small symbols all over the bridge, but the age, race, gender, economic status and personal history of the people who suggested them are unknown. A symbol of, say, a spiral or a well or a hand offering a key may have come from anyone, from a young farmer, an attorney, a schoolgirl or boy, a person without money, an architect, a mother, a respected community leader, a four year old, a minister, a teenager, a doctor, or someone whose ancestors came from Germany, from England, from Africa, or from points more immediate or more distant.

These seeming differences disappear into the stonework and create a bridge with a common spirit.

"Unity" in sign language
That spirit is not logical. In fact, it defies logic. It is a feeling that runs very deep and is characterized by peace. That door, that light, that song is found inside you, within you. It is not an illusion.

It is also found within others. Many selfless gifts of time and funds and energy and ideas have come from thousands of people to build this bridge. It reflects the creativity, imagination and commitment of each and every segment of a very diverse community. This experience of connection, this Community Bridge, is your own.

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