Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Art provides “Beauty Amid Destruction”


A desolate landscape exists where tree-crushed houses and piles of rubble used to stand. But thanks to Coker resident Jean Mills, brightly colored banners with pictures of hot air balloons, flowers, trees and butterflies also dot the landscape.

To help residents of damaged neighborhoods cope with the destruction around them, Mills began Beauty Amid Destruction, a project devoted to hanging uplifting banners in neighborhoods damaged by the April 27 tornado.

“Living in a space that’s been devastated like that takes an emotional toll,” Mills said. “The banners are like little jewels of something beautiful.”

Forest Lake resident Paula Mclendon drives by the banners every day as she travels between her house on Terriwood Dr., her temporary home and her office.

“I love seeing them. They seem to really boost everyone’s spirits,” Mclendon said.

For Forest Lake resident and UA business professor Linda Parsons, the banners keep community members hopeful and keep them connected to each other.

“First, there were these big wounded houses,” Parsons said. “Then there were piles of rubble. Now, it’s just empty space. The banners are a wonderful reminder that though things look bad now, they are going to get better. It’s also a way of pulling our community back together. Though everyone is displaced, we talk about the banners on our Facebook page, and it’s made us a community again.”

Though the project began with hand-painted banners, Mills has been making higher quality banners and soliciting artworks from visual artists since June. The next deadline for submissions is this Friday, August 26.

So far, about 20 banners have been submitted by artists from all across the globe, including artists from Alabama, California, Tennessee, New Mexico and even Paris, which Mills said is really inspiring because the artists don’t seem to have any connections to Tuscaloosa.

“We’re not raising money for the project, so it’s up to the artists to pay for the banners, but they’re doing it. It’s a reminder that strangers care,” she said.

Mills plans to hang at least 50 banners, hoping to cover all affected neighborhoods. With Nucor Steel having donated enough posts for her to hang 100 banners, Mills hopes to receive enough submissions to cover all affected neighborhoods.

The Downs resident and UA journalism professor Meredith Cummings, who requested banners for her neighborhood after seeing the ones hanging in Forest Lake, said the banners remind her that her neighborhood will one day be “just as pretty as the beautiful flower on the banner.”

“I am so thankful Beauty Amid Destruction is providing this community outreach,” Cummings said. “It’s a true morale booster for many of us.”

Artists can submit digital images of old and new artworks in any medium. Submissions are due Friday, Aug. 26. For submission instructions, visit




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