The Civility Mural
Judge Mary Yu’s King County Superior Courtroom
This mural, created by 18 lawyers and judges during the April 2012 Civility Promise Seminar in Tuscany, symbolizes the value of civility in the service of justice in our profession. Learn more about how creating the civility mural impacts the legal community in the videos below.
This video explores how creating the civility mural impacts the participant, both personally and professionally.
About the civility mural
In 2011 Robert’s Fund and Seattle University School of Law agreed to co-sponsor the Civility Promise Seminars that are designed to foster civility and are offered in Seattle and Tuscany. Although many define civility as mere politeness, we propose that true civility requires more: Civility is a set of attitudes, behaviors, and skills that calls upon us to respect others, to remain open-minded, and to engage in honest and constructive discourse. We believe that the foundation of civility is consciousness, creativity, and community. Thus, all of our seminars are structured around developing these components, with exercises that include a group mural project.
This mural project was developed by Italian artist and art teacher, Sergio Tamassia. We have created four of these collages in the past year; three of them were produced in the beautiful Tuscan town of Sovana, in Italy. This exercise begins with white shapes and black shapes. The shapes are cut by Sergio into interesting forms to stimulate creativity, even from those who claim no artistic ability. The participants are then invited to find shapes they like and simply to doodle on them, first only with black and white paint, then with color.
They place their completed forms on the floor to dry. After the painted shapes have dried, participants create a collage with the shapes (their own or others’) by placing them on a 30- x 5-foot sheet of poster paper. At this point, they lose their attachment to their own work and begin to generate a collective piece of work. Through this stage of the process they begin to see how they can change the impact of a form by altering its direction or by placing other forms next to it. Thus, they see how a creative process enables them to expand possibilities and keep soft eyes and open minds – a skill that is useful in problem-solving generally. In addition, as the collage begins to take shape and a composition emerges, the participants see how their individual contributions are both necessary to the completion of the whole and, more importantly, how the whole is enhanced by everyone’s contributions. Thus they see the value in community collaboration.
This project occurs on the second day of the seminar in Italy; and it solidifies the group. Debriefing the experience, many lawyers share that they have not done anything creative since they were in elementary school. Many express that they felt fearful and uncertain at the beginning, but nonetheless trusted us and engaged. They are able to apply this experience to their work as lawyers and judges by understanding that often the clients come with similar fears and uncertainty and need to be able to trust their lawyers and judges. In addition, the lawyers and judges appreciate how when they bring their authentic selves to the endeavor, stay open to more than one possibility, and work in collaboration, they will better serve their clients or the litigants that appear before them and thereby act as true stewards of justice.
In April 2012, King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu was a participant in this seminar, and she received permission from the other participants to hang this mural in her courtroom. The framed piece comes from the center of the mural that was created and is pictured above.