CHARLESTON, S.C. — Friends, family and co-workers gathered Monday at the John L. Dart Branch Library to honor one of those lost in the Emanuel AME Church shootings by dedicating a bright, wall-sized, geometric mural in her honor.
Cynthia Graham Hurd was full of life, full of joy and full of love for the Charleston County Public Library and all those who visited the branches she worked at or managed in her 31 years with the library. For more than 20 of those years, she worked at or managed the Dart Branch - the very branch that this self-proclaimed book nerd visited as a child growing up in Charleston's neck area.
"The mural is a beacon," said current Dart Manager Kim Odom, a close friend who considered Cynthia a mentor. "It brings people to one of the places she loved most in the neighborhood she grew up in. This is always where you'd find Cynthia. She'd be here among children, doing what she love while engaging and serving the people she loved."
According to Odom, it "expresses the joy that Cynthia expressed," and Monday's event allowed the people who loved Cynthia to come together and honor her legacy. "The event and the love shared during the dedication took my breath away"
Creating the mural, finding the artist and getting the funds were a true community effort. It was a collaboration between Charleston County Public Library, Enough Pie and was partially funded by donations from Winston & Strawn LLP.
The artist, Nick Kuszyk, aka R. ROBOTS, painted the bright, colorful mural on the south side of the John L. Dart Branch Library earlier this year. The New York resident is known for doing large public art projects, and his paintings grace walls in Berlin, Prague, London, Tel Aviv and throughout the United States.
"The mural serves as a bright, colorful invitation for all to come inside and experience the wonders of the library and explore books," said Cathryn Zommer with Enough Pie, an organization that is spearheading community improvements in the area and that helped back the creation of the mural.
During Cynthia's 31 years at the library, she touched the lives of thousands of people - encouraging children during their earliest days as new readers and then watching them return with homework assignments, to fill out applications for colleges and jobs and, ultimately, with children of their own.