BAR HARBOR — When the coronavirus pandemic turned the world upside down this spring, Paige Speight said she was struck by how, everywhere she looked, people were helping their neighbors.
“Whether that was through lending books or sharing whatever food they had or sharing children’s toys to keep kids entertained,” she said. “That’s what I was thinking about and that’s what was hopeful to me.”
Those helping hands are the subject of a new mural currently on display at the YWCA lawn on Mount Desert Street. It has a red, white and blue color scheme and was painted with house paint on plywood. In the piece, pairs of hands give and receive a carrot, a book, a sailboat, a lobster, a hammer and a stethoscope.
“Each hand and object pair are all connected,” Speight said. “And it’s all one line — when it hits the edge of the paper it just scoots over to the next.”
The Mount Desert Island High School and Bowdoin College graduate had been living in Charlottesville, Va., when she came back to the island in April. She’s working as a stern man on a Northeast Harbor lobster boat. During quarantine, she said she hit something of a creative dry spell.
“A lot of people were really inspired to make things during COVID, and I found it pretty exhausting,” she said. “So, this is actually the first piece I’ve really made since the whole pandemic started. I did it very slowly.”
The piece was made with “paint from other projects and wood from other projects,” she said. “I love finding what I have and seeing what I can make out of it.”
Speight has painted murals before — her first, at the nearby Robbins Motel, when she was still in high school. In Virginia, she created murals at a rock climbing gym and a solar power company.
“The thing about murals is, they’re big,” she said. “That’s part of what I really like about them, but it’s also part of logistically what makes (them) difficult. Sketching and making sure everything is going to fit proportionally” is part of the process.
When she finished this mural, she said, “I asked around to see if anyone had any interest in putting it up and I got an overwhelming response. It was amazing. So, I think I’m going to try and keep it moving until it finds a permanent home.
“It was all about sharing, so I wanted to do my part.”