Brainerd Vision and Legacy

by Brandon Donahue

Public Art Chattanooga partnered with the Woodmore Manor Neighborhood Association to commission a community driven mural design and installation on an existing architectural feature on the Brainerd Community Center, in order to create an iconic representation of the Woodmore Manor and Brainerd area neighborhoods.

photo by morgan smith I creative moon productions
photo by morgan smith I creative moon productions

The Brainerd Community Center sits behind two prominent destinations, Brainerd High School and the Brainerd Complex, which feature tennis courts and a garden closest to the area's main artery of North Moore Road. One can access the Center by traveling around the tennis courts to the tucked away Center furthest from North Moore Road.


The City of Chattanooga and the Woodmore Manor Neighborhood Association transformed a large existing “silo” architectural feature on the Center with a mural informed by the community’s input through  community engagement opportunities facilitated by a Creative Strategist. Creative Strategists are artists (or artist teams) who collaborate with City government by  applying their creative process as a community engagement strategy in order to help guide neighborhood empowerment through public art.


Activities included creating a Facebook  group page specific to the vision building of the mural, and distributing a virtual and hard copy survey asking area residents open-ended questions to gauge what aspect of the community they would like to see reflected in the mural; their perception of public art, how it may play a role in building their community, and the like. Creative Strategist, Erika Roberts of Velvet Poetry Productions, also conducted online engagement sessions with area elementary and middle school children utilizing prompts. Roberts and commissioned mural artist, Brandon Donahue, also collaborated on an activity packet and made it available online, as well as in art packets distributed to area students.



"This community building project was a collaboration between myself, Erika Roberts and the Brainerd area / Woodmore Manor Neighborhood Association. The project initially began before the COVID-19 pandemic, and took a turn for the better with a successful online engagement process. Erika and I created an activity packet which included:


- a word search puzzle
- coloring pages of the Brainerd YFD Silo
- and a questionnaire to get statistics about the community members


This activity packet inspired me to create 3 designs. We then held 2 virtual community meetings in which a selected group of community members and a panel of local artists gave me critical feedback to enhance the design. All of the feedback was constructive and it opened up conversations about beauty, culture, history, and the future of Brainerd.


The result was a young boy with a camera, and a young girl with a bright, contagious smile. Both kids have halos around their heads filled with symbols and activities that children and adults in the community love such as donuts, basketball, reading, and light bulbs for bright ideas. To the side of each child are Native American feathers that represent the heritage of the land on which Brainerd is located. The stripes filled with clouds above the children in the background represent the different times of the day.


I am truly honored and I will always cherish the stories that the community shared with me."


-Brandon Donahue

Are you a Brainerd Area Resident? Help inform the Mural Design!


Artists Erika Roberts and Brandon Donahue have created a survey and these fun activities that will inspire a new mural on the outside of the Brainerd YFD Center. Especially during these uncertain times, making art is a great way to express yourself, take your mind off any worries, or just get lost in your own amazing imagination. Download the activity pages below to participate and share your own ideas and stories that will inspire the artist's design.


Deadline for completing the online survey is Friday, June 5, 2020.


Complete Activity Packet


Deadline for returning completed activity pages is Sunday, May 31, 2020.


Drop them off at the Brainerd YFD Center (1010 North Moore Road Chattanooga, TN 37411) in the plastic bin located outside the front door. Or take a photo of your pages and upload them to the Brainerd YFD Vision Building for Future Mural Facebook Page. You may also email the photos to Brandon.

IMG_0938 (1)

Word Search Puzzles

Find the hidden words in the puzzle. Which word stood out to you first? Why do you think this word stood out for you? Write a sentence about what this word means to you. Highlight a few words and let them guide your drawing on the next page.


Brainerd YFD Mural Word Search Puzzle 1

Brainerd YFD Mural Word Search Puzzle 2

Coloring Pages

The coloring page is an outline of where the mural will go on the Brainerd YFD Center. The cylinder-shaped space is a great canvas for a mural and its curved shape will make the artwork appear to pop right off the side of the building. Use your imagination to fill in the space and draw images or words that reflect your ideas and your community.


Brainerd YFD Mural Coloring Page - Outdoor

Brainerd YFD Mural Coloring Page - Silo

About the Artist

Photo by Wassaic Project



Brandon Donahue is an artist working in painting, assemblage, and sculpture revolved around memorializing and commemorating. Donahue received his B.S. from Tennessee State University and M.F.A. from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Donahue has exhibited nationally and internationally, including the 13th Annual Havana Biennial in Matanzas, Cuba in 2019. He is represented by David Lusk Gallery in Nashville, TN. Donahue now lives and works in Mt. Rainier, MD and is currently an artist in residence at the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland College Park.

About the Creative Strategist


ERIKA ROBERTS - Velvet Poetry Productions

Erika Roberts is  a mother, grandmother, a poet and creator. Her artistry began 36 years ago in elementary school when she was introduced to poetry in the 5th grade. She noticed she had a great relationship with creativity as a means to communicate. Since then, she has become a humble part of the performing community in Chattanooga by creating shows to highlight the creatives therein. Erika is a successful workshop creator and facilitator under her production company, Velvet Poetry Productions, where she has performed at Barking Legs Theater, Bessie Smith Hall, The Hunter Museum, The Camp House, Lincoln Park, and Mercy Junction. She currently is contracted by Glass House Collective, in addition to performing in a monthly late night poetry show at The Palace Theater. Erika is also the recipient of the 2020 Chattanooga Business Elite's Best in the Arts Black Excellence award.


Stay Updated


Connect with Us

Public Art Chattanooga

Visiting Public Art Chattanooga around the city? Tag us @publicartchattanooga!