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A storytelling collaboration

The Healing Reflections mural focuses on the historic nature of 2020. Those themes are centered on healing, resilience, inclusion, diversity, hope and economic hardship. Thank you to all the story tellers and artists who contributed to this project, which allows healing by gaining insight and understanding to another’s experience, and by validating their own experiences.

We invite you to explore and learn more about the artwork, stories, and the humans behind each piece of the UW-Eau Claire selection of the mural below.

The Healing Reflections mural was created in collaboration with Mayo Clinic Health System. More works of art and the stories that inspired them can be found on the Mayo Clinic Connect Blog.


Click here to see full images of the artwork and read the stories of all the panels on this display.

The Pandemic Through Our Dogs' Eyes | Carolyn Otto & Lark Keating-Hadlock
Art by Lark Keating-Hadlock
The Pandemic Through Our Dogs' Eyes by artist Lark Keating-Hadlock, M.L.I.S.
Story told by Carolyn Otto, Ph.D.

Monday morning rolled around and after our morning walk and breakfast, Mom said “go to work.”  That was our cue to lay down on the couch while the parents went to work.  However, Mom went to her office room and Dad to the basement.  We were confused but happy...

Read more of Dr. Otto's story that inspired The Pandemic Through Our Dogs' Eyes

Making Rent | Kensie Kiesow & Anna Wendorff
Making Rent art by Anna Wendorff
Making Rent by artist Anna Wendorff
Story told by Kensie Kiesow

Summertime for a student is for days spent lying on the beach, soaking up as much of that Wisconsin summer sun as you can before winter hits. It’s for long road trips to Colorado, the west coast, or maybe just a neat park nearby with pine trees that remind you of Russian spires poking the sky. It’s for a break from the constant stress of exams, essays, and grades. And, it’s for that summer job...

Read More of Kensie's story that inspired Making Rent

Chippewa River Parallel | Megan Clark & Jill Olm
Chippewa River Parallel art by Jill Olm
Chippewa River Parallel by artist Jill Olm, M.F.A.
Story by Megan Clark

On the surface, nothing seemed to change. Days were spent drifting lazily by, with the occasional dark branches stirring ripples in my calm demeanor. But underneath it all was a roiling mass of anxiety, heartache, and fear. I found parallels and companionship in the Chippewa River, which runs through the campus at which I work....

Read More of Megan's story that inspired Chippewa River Parallel

I Hope It's Brighter Over There | Grace Wojkiewicz-Wielgus & Erin Hisey
I Hope It's Brighter Over There art by Erin Hisey
I Hope It's Brighter Over There by artist Erin Hisey, M.F.A.
Story by Grace Wojkiewicz-Wielgus

Fear permeated everything.

When classes were moved online, I remember being excited. I look back now and wish I could shake myself. I wish I could scream in my face that this is serious, and it is going to affect you, too. You aren’t invincible. Look at the lives this is taking...

Read More of Grace's story that inspired I Hope It's Brighter Over There

Emergence of Anomie | Gwenyth Wheat & Anna Wendorff
Emergence of Anomie art by Anna Wendorff

Emergence of Anomie by artist Amanda Wendorff
Story by Gwenyth Wheat

I tuned into another Skype call, my eyes tired, dry, and aching for light that wasn’t blue. Quickly, our group of friends appeared in the video call, each of us secluded to our bedrooms and propped up next to windowsills. My friend asked what life was like outside the walls of her recovery center, outside the walls that shielded her from the daily news, world events, and COVID-19...

Read More of Gwenyth's story that inspired Emergence of Anomie

Finding Joy During COVID-19 | Donna Anders & Amanda Bulger
Finding Joy during Covid-19 art by Amanda Bulger
Finding Joy During COVID-19 by artist Amanda Bulger
Story by Donna Anders

We reserved our daughter’s wedding venue in November of 2018 with no idea that the world would be turned upside down.  They picked May 2, 2020, the 6th year anniversary of when they started dating.  Life seemed normal until December of 2019 when two of our Chinese students from the UW-Eau Claire Host Friends Program talked about the COVID-19 virus back home.  We watched the news with lock downs and mask wearing in China...

Read More of Donna's story that inspired Finding Joy During COVID-19

Giving Thanks and The COVID Stage | Ali Liffrig, Sue Kleush & Amanda Obenhoffer
Giving Thanks digital art by Amanda Obenhoffer
Artist Amanda Obenhoffer
Healing Reflection Story by Ali Liffrig

When the pandemic began, I thought it would be over quickly. That it would breeze through our lives like a tornado, deadly but brief. This is not a unique sentiment; most people felt the same. I didn’t realize over a year of my twenties would be stolen...
Read More of Ali's story that inspired Amanda's graphic art

The COVID Stage by Sue Kleusch

In 1997 we were blessed with a beautiful little boy. Through the years we watched him grow up into a nice young man. We had long spoken to him about the lasting effects of a great education and how his going to college was going to be his gift from us...
Read More of Sue's story that inspired Amanda's graphic art

The Healing Powers of Swimming and Secret Santas | Vicky Thomas & Erin Hisey
The Healing Powers of Swimming and Secret Santas art by Erin Hisey
The Healing Powers of Swimming and Secret Santas by artist Erin Hisey, M.F.A.
Story by Vicky Thomas, M.Ed., M.S.

Lives changed in March 2020. I celebrated my birthday March 12th and on Friday the 13th, our routines abruptly ended. Many of our favorite healing activities changed – time with friends and swimming for me. Friends stopped gathering and pools closed for swimmers...

Read More of Vicky's story that inspired The Healing Powers of Swimming and Secret Santas

Healing Journals | Madeline Krafcheck & Sierra Lomo
Healing Journals art by Sierra Lomo
Healing Journals by artist Sierra Lomo, M.F.A.
Story by Madeline Krafcheck

Today I’m thinking about rollerblading. I’m thinking about gliding, soaring a little. I’m thinking of ten miles of pavement. Ten miles of the sun beating on my back, my friends by my side. A man’s best friend and my best friend, gliding and soaring. I’m thinking about flying down a hill — the best pavement in town...

Read More of Madeline's story that inspired Healing Journals


Click here to see full images of the artwork and read the stories of all the panels on this display.

The Last Time, Healing Reflection, and Bent Not Broken | Jeremy Janiak, Jan Larson, Colleen Marchwick & Joshua Brown
Bent Not Broken
Artist Joshua Brown, Ph.D.
The Last Time Story by Jeremy Janiak

Little did I know that January 2020 would be the last time that I would see both of you.The US had just confirmed its first case of COVID, I paid little attention to the news, it would go away, we live in the Midwest where nothing happens...
Read Moreof Jeremy's story that inspired Dr. Brown's art

Healing Reflection by Jan Larson, M.S.

I am standing on the shore. Arms at my sides, hands open, palms facing the sea as gentle swells touch the shore. The horizon shows no hint of the storms to come...
Read More of Jan's story that inspired Dr. Brown's graphic art

Bent Not Broken by Colleen Marchwick, M.A.

"A tree that is unbending, is easily broken." Lao Tzu
This year has been one of intense emotions like a winter storm that blows so that I no longer see, full of snow and ice weighing me down until I was nearly touching the earth...
Read More of Colleen's story that inspired Dr. Brown's art

Peace | Beth Kranz & Lark Keating-Hadlock
Peace art by Lark Keating-Hadlock
Peace by artist Lark Keating-Hadlock, M.L.I.S.
Story by Beth Kranz

How does one become peaceful in a world full of turmoil? How can peace be maintained over a year-long pandemic strain? In March 2020 when the order to stay at home was given, “peace,” as I knew it then, ended...

Read More of Beth's story that inspired Peace

A Cure for COVID-19 | Michael Hilger & Sierra Lomo
A cure for COVID-19
A Cure for COVID-19 by artist Sierra Lomo, M.F.A.
Story by Michael Hilger, Ph.D.

After earning a PhD, I taught in the UWEC English department for many years ago until I retired quite a few years ago.  When COVID-19 hit, I became a hermit and took refuge in TV, mystery novels and listening to popular songs of the 20th century. This kept me safe and allowed me to escape the everyday sad news, but it came with a price...

Read More of Dr. Hilger's story that inspired A Cure for COVID-19

Sketchnote | Jane Strong
Sketchnote art by Jane Strong
Sketchnote by artist and storyteller Jane Strong, M.A. 

Sketchnoting is a form of visual thinking that helps me to process my world. As a discipline, it can be both a personal expression and a professional practice. I came upon the concept following my master’s degree and spent years studying the science behind doodling, visual communication, visual thinking, cognition, and retention...

Read More of Jane's story that inspired Sketchnote

Bouncing Through Quarantine | BJ Hollars & Jill Olm
Bouncing Through Quarantine art by Jill Olm
Bouncing Through Quarantine by artist Jill Olm, M.F.A.
Story by BJ Hollars, M.F.A.

When life gives you a pandemic, buy a trampoline. Said no one ever. Except my wife, who, a month into the Safer At Home order, decided it was the most expedient way to persuade our children to get a little fresh air...

Read More of BJ's story that inspired Bouncing Through Quarantine

Healing Reflection | Emily Popp & Jill Olm
Healing Reflection art by Jill Olm
Healing Reflection by artist Jill Olm, M.F.A.
Story by Emily Popp

I remember the day I knew it was over. I sat on the floor, and I took in the defeat. It started off distant. Far away, it wouldn’t affect us. Then it got uncomfortably close. The hand sanitizer bottles scattered about. As if they would help in the long run. I remember my roommate driving away. We didn’t know it was for good...

Read More of Emily's story that inspired Jill's art

Hope Is the Thing to Do Right Now | Mickey Crothers & Jane Mohler
Hope is the Thing to Do Right Now art by Jane Mohler
Hope Is the Thing to Do Right Now by artist Jane Mohler
Story by Mickey Crothers

Hope is three crumpled dollars you find in a coat pocket when you thought you were flat-broke… then giving those three crumpled dollars to somebody who needs them worse than you do...

Read More of Mickey's story that inspired Hope Is the Thing to Do Right Now

Healing Reflection | Katie Johnson & Sierra Lomo
Healing Reflection art by Sierra Lomo
Healing Reflection by artist Sierra Lomo, M.F.A.
Poem by Katie Johnson

Death was as common as breathing in oxygen, but as painful as trying to breath without it. 

A cough equivalent to full lock down.             To a bunker six feet under.

A constant flee to nowhere.

Read More of Katie's poem that inspired Sierra's art

Eyes | Kaia Simon & Amanda Bulger
Eyes art by Amanda Bulger
Eyes by artist Amanda Bulger
Story by Kaia Simon, Ph.D.

On our first day back in Fall 2020, teaching and learning in person again, I stood in front of my classroom on the pre-placed dot on the carpet that marked my socially-distanced teacher position. I looked at the Monday group of my Histories and Theories of Rhetoric students, seated in a grid of twelve desks spaced six feet apart...

Read More of Dr. Simon's story that inspired Eyes


Click here to see full images of the artwork and read the stories of all the panels on this display.

The Infinite Imagination of Time | Olivia Rathsack, Christopher Ehlert & Kaela Greenfield
The Infinite Imagination of Time
The Infinite Imagination of Time by artists Christopher Ehlert and Kaela Greenfield
Story by Olivia Rathsack

You never know how much time you have spent on the nonsensical, the trivial, the petty until it becomes your only currency. The pandemic arrived like a tsunami, rushing waters tearing and destroying everything in its path. Work, school, and community events vanish into thin air. Who knew the world could be so drastically changed in the span of what seemed like minutes?...

The Infinite Imagination of Time-Greenfield

Read more of Olivia's story that inspired these two pieces of artwork

A New Kind of Family | Chloe Falcon, Erin Phelps & Natalia Sexton
A New Kind of Family-Phelps
A New Kind of Family by artists Erin Phelps & Natalia Sexton
Story by Chloe Falcon

When I remember the COVID-19 pandemic my mind goes to rapid closures, faces armored in masks, and nightmares. And of course, ramen noodles, knitting, and Marvel movies: some of my favorite ways to pass the time during the “Safer at Home” order...

A New Kind of Family-Sexton

Read more of Chloe's story that inspired these pieces of artwork

The Perspective Warrior | Avery Benson, Jordan Witzel & Joshua Yang
The Perspective Warrior-Witzel
The Perspective Warrior by artists Jordan Witzel & Joshua Yang
Story by Avery Benson

When I think back to 2018, I recall how passionate, encouraged, and empowered I felt when starting my first year of college. I was an older sister, daughter, first-generation, African American woman, and a college student! I started to feel more firmly the responsibility to cut off the ropes of struggle and inequity tethered to the stories of my ancestors. I was defying odds and inspiring others, so of course I had hope that the world would open itself up to me. No dream of mine would be faltered. My mind swirled with naive thoughts of ‘control over every situation’, and never accepting words like ‘fail’. I felt strength. I was confident. Empowered by the sense of freedom dwindling at my fingertips...

The Perspective Warrior-Yang

Read more of Avery's story that inspired these two pieces of artwork.

Hope is Virtual Office Hours | Stephanie Turner, Ph.D.; Kierstyn Anglemyer & Sydney Beckfield
Hope Is Virtual Office Hours-Anglemyer 1
Hope Is Virtual Office Hours-Beckfield
Hope is Virtual Office Hours by artists Kierstyn Anglemyer & Sydney Beckfield
Story by Stephanie Turner, Ph.D.

Sitting here in my bunker—I mean, basement; no, I mean, office—I’m ready at the laptop. Ready to receive earnest students with challenging questions about my carefully crafted assignments, now adapted to our COVID-19 all-digital classroom-slash-office. There, we can talk through our screens face-to-face in real time, almost as good as actual office hours in my actual office back at school. Almost...


Read more of Dr. Turner's story that inspired these three pieces of artwork.

Hope Is Virtual Office Hours-Anglemyer 2


Click here to see full images of the artwork and read the stories of all the panels on this display.

Healing Reflection | Nora Schmidt, Elizabeth Huddleston & Mikan Miljkovic
Healing Reflection NS-Huddleston
Healing Reflection NS-Miljkovic
Healing Reflection by artists Elizabeth Huddleston & Mikan Miljkovic
Story by Nora Schmidt

Over the last 19 months, COVID-friendly “driveway parties” have become the all-too-familiar, go-to get-together. After becoming a world of shut-ins in the spring of 2020, we slowly emerged from our homes, venturing to grocery stores and even restaurants as we tested the limits of our 6-foot safety radii. We devised new strategies to see our loved ones, from Zoom meetings and Netflix parties to drive-by birthdays and driveway sit-downs. My family opted for the latter whenever possible, circling camping chairs around portable firepits to get a few face-to-face hours with friends and family. We passed the summer making calculated grocery store runs, sewing homemade masks, and drinking wiped-down bottles of Spotted Cow and Mike’s Lemonade. (It was always BYOB to avoid any cross-contamination.)...

Read more of Nora's story that inspired these two pieces of artwork.

Healing Reflection | Stephanie Janssen, August Carlson & Jane Mohler
Healing Reflection SJ-Carlson
Healing Reflection SJ-Mohler
Healing Reflection by artists August Carlson & Jane Mohler
Story by Stephanie Janssen

My name is Stephanie Janssen and Covid-19 messed up my life. I am a UWEC student; 5th year; Creative Writing and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies double major. When COVID-19 officially hit campus in early March of 2020, I was a junior, and I was very happy. I had just booked my flight to England for an immersion trip about King Arthur in July and was excited to go to San Francisco in June for the Frameline Film Festival, which was all expenses paid except for food...

Read more of Stephanie's story that inspired these two pieces of artwork.

Six Feet Out of Reality | Charlie Roettger, Sabre Sletten & Mayly Vang
Six Feet Out of Reality-Sletten
Six Feet Out of Reality-Vang
Six Feet Out of Reality by artists Sabre Sletten & Mayly Vang
Story by Carlie Roettger

My key to coping with the pandemic was taking my emotional distance as seriously as my physical distance. I filled every waking second with some form of media. When I wasn’t zoning out to reruns of Malcolm in the Middle I was churning through podcasts, finding whatever noise I could to simulate spending time with friends. I spent a first date getting to know a girl over Facetime as we visited each other’s islands on Animal Crossing. Heck, I finished Stephen King’s The Stand, a 1050 page horror novel detailing an American apocalypse caused by a worldwide pandemic. Something about exploring the familiar suffering of a world adjacent to ours felt perversely comforting; I still can’t articulate why...


Read more of Charlie's story that inspired these two pieces of artwork.

Masquerade | Abigail Rowe & Ruth Cronje, Ph.D.
Masquerade by artist Ruth Cronje, Ph.D.
Story by Abigail Rowe

We all wear masks. However, that was not literal when that turn of phrase was used. When it comes down to it. The masks that we wore prior to the pandemic were often to protect our emotional and mental feelings. However, now we wear masks to protect ourselves and others from a physical standpoint...

Read more of Abigail's story that inspired Dr. Cronje's artwork.

My Lungs Are Slaying a Dragon | Isaac Dalhoff, Cody Vander Loop & Megan Miller
My Lungs Are Slaying a Dragon-Vander Loop
My Lungs Are Slaying a Dragon-Miller
My Lungs Are Slaying a Dragon by artists Cody Vander Loop & Megan Miller
Story by Isaac Dalhoff

It is March 13th, 2020, and I am struggling to make it up the stairs to my dorm. My mother always liked to comment on my immune system. It wasn’t uncommon to see me walking into class sick. Half of the time, I was. My recovery from a simple cold usually took one month and two weeks before I stopped my sniffles and wheezes. Then, one month later, I’d feel another scratch creeping its way into my throat...

Read more of Isaac's story that inspired these two pieces of artwork.