RICHMOND, Va. -- The story of a Richmond Police detective is told on a wall just feet from where she fights for children, painted by a local artist whose work celebrates the many stories of women.
Lindsey Gary-Ford nominated her wife Detective Mary Gary-Ford, who works in internet crimes against children, to be considered for the “Girls, Girls, Girls Mural Tour," started by VCU graduate Emily Herr.
“The Girls, Girls, Girls Mural Tour is a project I started around this time last year,” Herr said. “It’s an ongoing mural series depicting local women in the cities where they live on walls of monumental size in order to celebrate and have positive imagery of real women.”
Lindsey submitted pictures she took of her wife and their two daughters along with this email to Herr:
I’m writing as a surprise to my wife. I would love to see her painted. She is the most amazing woman in my life. We have been together 13 years and have a 9 and 6 year old. She is a detective for the City of Richmond and is amazing at her professional job as well as mothering our two girls. She fights everyday to bust pedophiles and recently became part of an FBI Task force targeting online predators. In 2015 we were finally allowed to marry and it was the best day of my life (other than the births of our babies.) She is my everyday superwoman. I don't know what kind of photo you are looking for so I am just including a glimpse of our lives and I would be so honored if you chose one. I love your work and was an artist before my transition into mommy (now my kids are the artists.) Thank you for taking the time to read this.
“Having to go to work everyday and do that and come home and kind of put that aside and be a caretaker and mother and embrace her own kids it’s just a really complex thing to do,” said Mary's wife, Lindsey.
Herr was so moved by the story, and a picture of Mary with her six-year-old daughter, that she wanted to recreate that image as a mural on the back of the Quirk Hotel.
“Mary’s mural is about the contrast between her work and her home life and the outside world compared to the reality of how your interior world is for yourself,” said Herr. “It’s intended to show the contrast between work and home, interior and exterior worlds, and motherly love.”
“I was so honored and it was just so sweet and I was excited that she [Lindsey] would even think about doing that,” said Mary.
The mural is set underneath a spotlight and shows Mary with her arms wrapped around her daughter. The parents hope every time their children walk past Mary's office they will be reminded of their family bond.
“They will grow up, unfortunately, and we want them to know no matter where they go and what they do they are bonded with us,” Mary said though tears.
“It really defines a moment of intimacy and a really delicate moment between Mary and our youngest daughter and to me that’s such a juxtaposition to what she does for a living,” said Lindsey.
“The series is intended to celebrate real women, and call attention to how the complexity of our lives defy stereotypes and objectification," said Herr.
In a city where many men are recognized for the art and murals, Herr's work adds a feminine depth to the great collection.
Herr points out that her pink mural is a really good point of contrast to the nearby 12-feet tall steel sculpture of a large policeman head called "Thin Blue Line." The public arts project juts from the side of the police headquarters; it's strong face facing out onto the street.
"It feels pretty overbearing, pretty masculine," Herr said. "And so I thought that right next door, to have something that represented a different side of the police would be a very interesting contrast and a very perfect place to use this image that I had been hoping to find a place for anyway."
The mural of Mary is fifteenth mural in the series, and the tenth mural in Richmond. Herr has traveled as far as Vermont to paint as part of the Girls tour.
She has three more murals planned around the Richmond Metro, including one at Jade Multicultural Salon, one on a home in Carver, and one at Six Points Innovation Center.
Herr’s ultimate goal is a series that incorporates collaborations with a variety of artists, locations, and subjects that spreads around the country.
Here is how you can learn more and support the project.
Thank you to @quirkhotel and @quirkgallery for making this new part of the GGG series possible - the placement of this one is important, being right next to the Richmond Police Headquarters on Grace Street, and therefore a new neighbor to the big metal head by @stutzy. "She is a detective for the City of Richmond, fighting every day to protect children by busting pedophiles. She is amazing at her professional job as well as mothering our two girls. We don't have much family. It's really just us. In 2015 we were finally allowed to marry and it was the best day of my life (other than the births of our babies.) She is my everyday superwoman." Mary was submitted by her wife Lindsey for the Girls! Girls! Girls! mural project #girlsgirlsgirlstour . . . . #murals #muralist #urbanart #bossbabes #mothersdayiseveryday #whoruntheworld #rvamurals #bossbabesRVA #herrsuite #womenpaintingwomen @visitrichmondVA @rvastreetart @muralsofrva @richmondgrid @styleweekly @therichmondexperience #bitcheslovemurals