Murals at the Milton Art Center, ‘Butterfly’ and ‘The Origins of the Colors of the World’

By Joan Clifford, Executive Director, Milton Art Center


The Milton Art Center  held a spring  fundraiser to beautify the grounds at the art center. Two of our teaching artists, Sue Hoy and Mairead Dambruch were commissioned to create murals in the outdoor spaces where we hold summer camp.


Sue Hoy, a painter, specializes in teaching clay at the art center. Sue has been teaching at the art center since it opened in 2012.Sue has been involved in numerous public art projects including the murals on the wall of Abby Park, Legacy Place and Collicot School.


Sue wanted to create artwork that was bold, bright and interactive for the outside of the art center.


“These butterfly wings include lots of elements to use as lessons. While looking at the painting with student, we can discuss primary, secondary, warm and cool colors; search for a variety of lines and organic and geometric shapes; and learn about symmetry and value,” said Sue.


“Kids can also stand in as the body of the butterfly for a cute photo opportunity. The mural also acts as a ‘look and find’ with hidden pictures throughout,” said Sue.


Mairead Dambruch, a painter and musician, has been teaching painting, drawing and nature/art classes at the art center since 2018.


Mairead’s mural is called the Origins of the Colors of the World. “For this mural, since I like to weave in lessons and lore about the plants that grow around us when I teach, it was natural for me to base the mural around the native, medicinal and dye plants that grow around us,” said Mairead.


“The idea, in conjunction with the natural dye color garden that will be installed later at the art center, is to show how plants make natural dyes. I like to include natural dying projects in my classes to bridge the divide between how natural elements and processes are turned into art and functional objects. It removes the separation and cognitive dissonance we have between objects existing in the world and understanding how nature is used to improve our lives,” explained Mairead.


“The mural is inspired by folk art, in that the art has function, it is not just a piece of visual art. The mural is a teaching tool, a map, an index, holding pieces of information, lore, all within a logic that is specific to myself but also hopefully universal,” said Mairead.


“The concentric circles on the top of the mural reference the primary colors. On the outer circle there is a rainbow of colors, what we know of as the rainbow, and those circles of colors correspond to circles besides the plants, denoting what dye color they make.”


“The circles were inspired by Giovanni di Paolo”s painting, ‘The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise,’ because it grounds lore into a physical reality that makes the idea of “magic” into a creative process. With the expulsion of paradise idea, knowledge being why the expulsion, I wanted to invoke that knowledge, especially holistic knowledge and deep understanding will not expel you, but welcome you into a new world filled with beauty and magic. In art making, we are always creating our own worlds and the basis of that is color, our tools, our minds and our surroundings. Art comes from the natural world because it is what we know, it is who we are, and it is where color comes from,” said Mairead.


“I have realized that when I paint, I am always making, to myself, in content, the same painting. The painting is always grasping at being a container for all corners of nature – the sun and the moon, the land and the sky, what is seen by the eye and what is seen in the mind, reality and imagination. they are all opposite sides to the same coin.”


“I also really wanted to make this painting because learning about plants has helped me so much on my journey as an artist. Once I started to lose my plant blindness (the idea that upon seeing a field all you see is grass or green instead of individual plants) a more complete world opened up to me. Through learning deeply about nature we are welcomed into worlds our eyes could previously not see and the understanding that nature is all and that it is all connected,” said Mairead.


We are beyond happy to have beautiful art on the outside walls of our art center that function as teaching tools but also brings us great pleasure when we view the joyful colors and shapes and symbols. Please come by and view these outdoor works of art created by Sue Hoy and Mairead Dambruch. Thank you to all the local businesses who donated to our fundraiser to allow us to fund these works of art into existence.




Butterfly mural with two children with summer camp t-shirts holding their art




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