Artists, Community Collaborate on Unique Tile Mural for Martha’s Place

This tile mural was designed by artists in consultation with residents of the Martha's Place residential recovery center at 1928 Pennsylvania Ave. in West Baltimore. The mural, capturing the feeling of triumph over difficult odds, will be affixed to a brick wall overlooking a meditation garden adjacent to Martha's Place. Donations are sought to complete the project; call 410-728-2227 or visit our website.
Local artists Leslie Furlong and Julie Stovall have been collaborating for over two years on a public art project—a tile mural that will soon be installed on historic Pennsylvania Avenue in Baltimore. This project is the result of a collaboration with the residents and staff of a womens recovery house, Martha’s Place, and has been made possible through the support of local foundations, organizations, businesses, institutions and individuals.

The project began as a desire to beautify an exterior wall of Marha’s Place by Elder C.W. Harris, founder of one of the citys few women!s residential recovery homes. The dream has taken form as a 17-by-l9-foot tile mural that overlooks a meditative garden for the women residing in the recovery house. It was created with the help of residents of Martha’s Place, school children and adults from the Sandtown-Winchester and Upton communities.

The mural showcases one of the first residents of Martha’s Place posing in a victorious gesture, showing her mood on the day of her graduation from the six-month residential program. "The process of recovery is a long, hard one, but it can be done," Deborah Tolson said recently as she continues to celebrate four years in recovery.

On Saturday, September 20 from 3-4 p.m., community members will be grouting the mural’s tiles, which are being installed on the wall at 1928 Pennsylvania Avenue. The public is invited to join in. From 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, September 28 a grand unveiling celebration will be held to mark the completion of the project.

The final image has been derived from photographs taken of residents who performed gestures to represent their recovery process. "The bravery and perseverance of the women at Martha's Place to overcome addiction is an inspiration," Julie Stovall said.

Todd Marcus, the program developer at Martha's Place, said of the project, "It has taken incredible commitment and hard work to bring this mural to the verge of completion and it reminds me of the work and passion that went into building Martha's Place, which also mirrors the work and passion the residents of Martha's Place put into their recovery every day.” He called the mural “a profound artistic statement for our community, one which will ultimately be viewed by millions of eyes and, I hope, uplift the entire spirit of our community."

Support for the mural project has come from the Baltimore Community Foundation, the Maryland Institute College of Art President's Fund, the Maryland State Arts Council Artists in Communities Grant, the Pennsylvania Avenue Revitalization Commission, Streuver Brothers, Holland Tile, Mapei and ColorCo.

For more information about Martha's Place, call Todd Marcus 410-728-2227; for details about the mural, call Leslie Furlong at 410-444-8370) or Julie Stovall at 410-467-2360.

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This story was published on September 17, 2003.