Sunset tree at Imurj

Location: Ladies Restroom at Imurj, Raleigh, NC. 2018

Imurj is a creative hub in Raleigh, equal parts an art gallery, a music venue and a bar, as well as a welcoming place for all sorts of creative events. I learned about them in 2017, they had just opened and were running a promotion for new members. I got to know the gallery manager Kenneth Proseus and we talked about murals and public art a lot. He wanted to do something in the shop area and the bathrooms, and I got the chance to leave my mark on both (the last image is of a fox painted on the wall in the shop area).

The idea for the design came from thinking hard about all things calming and beautiful. Bathrooms are a bit like a sanctuary. If you are an introvert like me, bathroom is a place to escape the pressure of public attention and our own anxiety. It is also a pace to do a reality check, that’s why when women come in there the first thing they are gonna do is look in the mirror - their most honest friend. Got spinach in your teeth? Yep, the mirror will tell you. But after the woman has thus confronted reality, she needs something to boost her confidence and put things in perspective. I thought about painting actual people, and lots of words, or maybe even going for complete abstract. But then I thought “what would make me feel relaxed and encouraged, and would take me out of my head for a moment?” I find nature very relaxing. I love sunsets. I’ll stop everything I am doing to watch one, because when I do all the worries disappear. It’s a perfect moment of presence. The blooming tree is a symbol for beautiful transformation, the modest looking buds open to reveal stunning beauty inside. I hope that when the ladies look at the mural they think of all the beautiful things they deserve in life and walk out with their head held high.

Lidia Churakova