Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse Recovery Mural (May 2018)

Members of the Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse worked closely with Washington and Lee University (W&L) students to produce a collaborative mural depicting their individual recovery journeys. Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse (ENC) manager Phil Floyd, who has dreamed of creating this project for many years, hopes that the mural will provide a source of inspiration in the recovery process for those living with mental illness.

The mural design process began with sketching sessions in which ENC members reflected on positive ideas, images, and memories associated with their personal paths to recovery. Guided by imagery created by clubhouse members, W&L students and ENC members created a design that fused together images from the initial sketches. Members and students painted together each day to complete the 32-foot-long mural.

The border panels are filled with paintings that represent personal journeys, feelings of safety, comfort, and community: freshly baked bread, gardening, fishing trips, friendships, and family memories. At the same time, many of the images suggest forward movement, restoration, continuity, and growth, and point expectantly and hopefully toward a positive future.

The morning sun was a central image of recovery for one of the Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse’s beloved members, Clyde, who recently passed away. ENC members remember Clyde as a positive force in helping others with their own recovery from mental illness. Clyde’s story of recovery began during his time in Vietnam. Nearly every morning he would wake up to watch the sunrise, and it was this powerful image of the morning sun chasing away the darkness that helped him to combat his mental illness. Upon his return from Vietnam, Clyde kept a calendar to mark each morning that he watched the sunrise. Each day marked was another worth living.

Throughout the course of the project, W&L students collected audio narratives and documented the mural making process. Images and narratives are available as part of an online interactive mural. The documentation preserves the voices, the memories, and the experiences of the members of the Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse, and ensures that their stories of recovery will reach a wide audience.

The Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse is a program of Rockbridge Area Community Services that empowers people with mental illness to work toward and maintain wellness while building the skills they need to thrive within the community. Founded in 1983, the Eagle’s Nest is a part of Rockbridge Area Community Services (RACS). According to the RACS website, the Eagle’s Nest helps those living with severe mental illness by:

  • Supporting individuals during their recovery process to live and work in their community
  • Promoting whole person recovery, centered around SAMHSA’s 8 Dimensions of Wellness
  • Incorporating community living in all of its aspects in the communities of their choice
  • Empowering individuals to take control of their own recovery to live life to the highest quality

The ENC mural project extends from a long-standing partnership between Phil Floyd, the Eagle’s Nest and its members, and Washington and Lee University’s psychology department. During the spring term of 2018, the W&L students enrolled in Psych300: Pursuit of Happiness (taught by psychology Professor Karla Murdock) and Art275: Community Muralism (co-taught by art history professor Andrea Lepage and studio art professor Kathleen Olson) worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the Eagle’s Nest Clubhouse Members to produce a mural (6 feet tall, 32 feet long). The mural focuses on themes of recovery and the imagery and ideas were generated by ENC members. Students facilitated the design and production of the mural. Ross McDermott, co-founder of the Charlottesville Mural Project served as the project advisor.

On this website, you can learn more about our process and team. Meet the W&L assistants.