When we first met with the team from The Mahler Fine Art and North Carolina based artist, Dare Coulter, we shared photos and stories to help capture the essence of who Ojetta V. Holt-Shoffner was. After months of planning, design and sketching the mural was finally ready to be revealed earlier this year.
Tosha, the oldest child of Odell Shoffner Jr and Ojetta V. Holt-Shoffner, joined her brothers and their families for the unveiling of the mural.
“Working with Dare and our family on this mural was an amazing experience. Our Mom gave so much and asked for so little in return. To see her light shine through this mural for others is so special.” Tosha Holt
Dare graciously invited the Holt family to site to not only view the mural, but participate in adding the finishing touches. Throughout the design phase Dare encouraged Holt family members, UNC-Rex KidsCAN! staff and families, and our Holt Brothers Foundation Board and Advisory Board, to complete blank stars with words of encouragement.
“I left the mural with a great sense of pride that my Mom, my Dad, our family and the mural as a whole can and will uplift the spirits of families for many years to come.” Terrence Holt
These star sheets were collected and returned to Dare with their new words of inspiration. She then transformed these stars into 3D acrylic objects with the original handwriting of the author. The family helped to glue these stars and their sayings all along the wall.
Additionally stars were added throughout the project with paint and markers to add other dimensions to the mural. It was such a special moment for the family to not only view the mural, but to be able to take part in its completion. It was a real team effort!
“Seeing how Dare brought the memory of Mama Ojetta to life was absolutely amazing. I immediately saw the vision. The covered smirk and eyes of Ojetta let me know exactly where she was in the mural. Being a part of the process by painting stars throughout the image allowed our family to come together in honoring our beloved matriarch. The bright colors and glowing smiles throughout the mural gave me feelings of joy and hope and I hope that all who see it experience the same feelings.” Carla Holt
Now that the building is open for staff, patients and caregivers this mural greets so many faces each day and we hope that it serves as a bright moment to all who see it.
“To be able to witness the evolution of how the foundation has grown as an organization to have this moment as a family to honor Ojetta with this installation is a dream come true. The way that Dare captured her essence brought tears to my eyes, and I consider it a privilege for her to have invited our family to play a small part in her work. I know that Ojetta is smiling down on all of us.” Nikki Holt
This experience was especially meaningful to Terrence and Torry’s kids who joined in the visit and art projects. Never having met their grandmother has meant that they have relied on their family to share about who she was and what she meant to them.
“Being able to experience Grandma Ojetta’s presence through art helped me to appreciate her impact even better than before. Dare’s ability to present love and inspiration was a genuine tribute to the woman who showed so much love to her family, community and now so many others through her legacy.” Brayden Holt
“Getting to be a part of the mural was a very emotional and sentimental experience. I never had the chance to meet my grandmother, so getting to see her represented in the cancer center made me feel close to her. I hope the mural will bring a smile to the faces of the families that will also see it, and it makes me happy to think that it’s her smile they will see.” Brooklyn Holt
The entire experience, from selecting Dare as the artist, to viewing the completed mural, is one that according to Torry Holt “was a priceless experience and one I am thrilled we were able to share as a family.”
🎥 Credit – Creative Allies
📸 Credit – Liz McLean, Creative Allies and Carla Holt