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Broomfield resiliency on display in new art exhibit

More than 100 city and county employees came together this spring and summer to create a collaborative art installation currently on display at the George Di Ciero building, a physical representation of healing and hope for a post-pandemic future.

More than 100 city and county employees came together this spring and summer to create a collaborative art installation currently on display at the George Di Ciero building, a physical representation of healing and hope for a post-pandemic future.

Broomfield city leaders worked with artist Chloé Duplessis to facilitate sessions where employees could create art and talk about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and what they want the future to look like.

“People had a lot of trauma based around the pandemic, whether it was loss of a loved one, isolation or changes in how the world functions,” said Vanessa Oldham-Barton, director of diversity, equity and organizational development. “We thought it was really important to create a space for our employees to reconnect, relieve stress and remember we like being together and we’re all human.” 

Duplessis specializes in creating art and immersive experiences that center history, accessibility and healing. With previous experience working for and with cities and counties, Duplessis said she has a heightened sense of passion for people who work in public service. 

“There are living, breathing humans doing this work day in and day out,” Duplessis said. “I knew under the lens of what we’ve all experienced since 2020, with the pandemic and social unrest, these people were still going to work and making it happen amid it all.” 

Duplessis reached out to Broomfield about an artist residency and began talking to city leaders about how to show up for the community in the aftermath of the pandemic. The city’s response surprised her, she said – Broomfield officials wanted to start at home, with their own people, to connect and heal. 

“That has never happened in my experience, that people are willing to take accountability and say, maybe there is an opportunity for some capacity-building internally,” Duplessis said. 

The result was six weeks of sessions open to all Broomfield employees to be creative. During that time, Duplessis began conversations about what brought people joy. People painted, made collages and played with blocks. 

The result was 143 pieces of employee artwork, plus six original pieces created by Duplessis and inspired by the sessions and the joy, concern and contributions employees shared with her. 

Duplessis reflected on employees seeing their art on display for the first time in the Broomfield Auditorium and the smiles, hugs and tears that followed. 

“People felt seen and heard. As a woman of color living in America and as someone who is navigating vision loss, when I have that as a centering focus for me and my work, it helps me continue to show up authentically,” Duplessis said. “As an artist, the foundation of my work is that everyone needs to be seen and heard, and this experience with Broomfield is a perfect example of that.”