On Tuesday, October 2, staff and youth from the Center for Family Services welcomed visitors, funders and participants to witness the unveiling of “Spirit Invincible,” at Benson House in Camden.  The mural project which began more than 18 months ago came to fruition on this evening when this deeply moving mosaic mural was dedicated.

The mural, Spirit Invincible, welcomes residents, staff and visitors to the Benson House. Incorporating more than 2,000 handcrafted clay tiles made by residents, IMANI students, staff, and teaching artist Paul Serena.  Through stylized symbolism, the mural follows a spirit’s challenging journey towards successful, achievable outcomes, a relatable story about human perseverance.

Upon entering you are met with the Benson House, capturing the home’s architectural beauty and the welcoming hands we offer to all who seek aid and comfort here. From the entryway landing we see a spirit in a small boat in turbulent water, who is able to come ashore with the assistance of a helping hand. Next we see a spirit’s encounter with a wall that is insurmountable until presented with a ladder to aid them on their way.

At the second landing we find a spirit in a barren environment, save for a single Protea flower, one of the oldest known to man and symbolizing perseverance, diversity and courage. As the spirit continues the journey, they draw strength from everything they have surmounted, so they can cross a bridge of virtues to reach a lush field where gladiolas, daffodil and lotus bloom, all symbols of transformation.

The story follows the human spirit as it encounters challenges, receives guidance and aid by outside forces, to help them on a path toward a bright future filled with affirmations. It is hoped that viewers will not only identify with the spirit but with the helping hands as well. Our residents and IMANI youth added words of encouragement and support to tiles throughout the mural to remind future residents and visitors that everything will be well at the Benson House, and the spirit will be free to fly, free to grow and free to be their true self once they leave our doors.

Through the 2018 school year, over 30 students learned to work with clay and create this mosaic mural from start to finish. The inspiration and design as well as tile-making and grouting were all worked on collaboratively. Under the guidance of the teaching artist, students learned to texture, stamp, glaze, adhere, and grout tiles to assemble this over twenty-five foot piece of art.

The Spirit Invincible mural project was made possible by support from Perkins Center for the Arts, The Center for Family Services, and Campbell Soup Company.