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Four local artists selected to create Dayton Oregon District mass shooting memorial

A birds eye view of the Seed of Life mosaic memorial.
Francis Michel
8/4 Memorial Committee
A birds eye view of the Seed of Life mosaic memorial.

A team of local artists was recently selected to create a memorial to the nine victims who died in the August 2019 Oregon District mass shooting.

The 8/4 Memorial Committee recently selected a team of four local artists to create a memorial in Dayton’s Oregon District. The space will be designed to honor the nine victims who died in the August 2019 mass shooting.

The memorial, tittled “The Seed of Life," will have three components: a mosaic, a sculpture and a series of poems.The team selected includes:

  • Terry Welker, FAIA: architect/sculptor, team leader
  • Sierra Leone: Dayton poet, educator, community builder
  • Jes McMillan: artist, community builder, The Mosaic Institute 
  • James Pate: artist, designer, community builder

The mosaic will be made of overlapping circles forming the seed of life — often referred to as a sacred geometric figure. It will consist of mosaic tiles with colors including mint green, lavender and blue.

The group of artists will be working with some local schools and community groups to put pieces of the mosaic together, Terry Welker said.

“By putting their own hands on it, it demonstrates the evidence of human concern. And that's a shared thing that is built over time, so it becomes more meaningful because of the community involvement,” Welker said.

Francis Michel
8/4 Memorial Committee

The sculpture will be a grouping of nine stainless steel petals or leaves in the backdrop of the mosaic. There will also be phrases from poems written by Dayton poet Sierra Leone embedded into the mosaic.

Leone will interview community members and explore what remembrance and healing means to them. She said the memorial will be a highly collaborative project between the artists and the community.

“It's going to be done with care and tenderness. And it's going to be with the vision and understanding that this is beyond us, bigger than us. And will have an impact lasting beyond our years,” Leone said.

Leone also said part of the design of the space is to serve as a place of solitude and a place where people can feel a wide range of emotions.

“What I want more than anything is for people to decide to feel because we are numb. They are numb. They are hurt. We are angry. We're frustrated,” Leone said. "It is a memorial. It is a moment to understand a tragedy happened here. But also life goes on.”

The memorial will be on the plaza next to the Trolley Stop in the Oregon District. The team has a budget of $200,000 for the completion of the memorial, which is expected to be complete by August 2024 – the fifth anniversary of the shooting.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming

Email: afigueroa@wyso.org
Phone: 937-917-5943