The defaced and restored Ukraine mural is now a symbol that ‘love will prevail’

Jhe original mural was a simple design: an outline of Ukraine with two bold stripes of yellow and blue across it. In the middle, a sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine. Accompanied by a simple message. “Stand with Ukraine. Love will prevail”

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Artist Hillarie Isackson signed up to host Ukrainian refugees, but she wanted to do more. She was inspired to create a mural by other artists supporting Ukrainians. She then heard about a local employee who had just returned to Ukraine to pick up her grandmother from the war-torn country. She wanted to finish the fresco to welcome them home.

She painted the mural on the side of Hart Studio, the gallery she runs in Gig Harbor. Two days after the mural was finished, Isackson woke up to numerous notifications. The fresco had been vandalized.

Caption: Hillarie Isackson's mural has been vandalized using the colors red, white and blue.  The colors of the Russian flag.

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It was covered in large patches of red, white and blue – the colors of the Russian flag. The people who vandalized the mural also left footprints around the area with the paint.

“Paint was running everywhere,” Isackson said.

When she saw the damage, ideas on how to repair the mural began to bloom.

“We’re just going to put flowers there,” Isackson said. “We’ll cover it up, we’ll do something beautiful with the mess.”

But there was a problem: Isackson mainly uses water-based paints. The vandals defaced the mural with oil-based paint. Isackson could not paint over the graffiti unless he had new materials.

That’s when community members stepped in to help. They raised money to help pay for the materials Isackson needed. Meanwhile, other members of the arts community participated, and neighborhood children volunteered to scrub the oil-based paint with paint thinner.

“People were driving by and shouting out the window, honking their horns,” Isackson said. “We probably had at least four or five people at any given time hanging around just talking about what it meant to them to do this. So, I just pushed through.”

Isackson wanted to make sure the mural was complete for his new neighbors from Ukraine. Thus, she worked for 15 hours straight and late into the night. The canvas was illuminated by lights also provided by members of the community.

Now the mural features both the Ukrainian and American flags with flowers – and the mural’s original message: “Stand with Ukraine.” Love will prevail.”

James V. Hayes