The simpler the visual message, the better, it often seems. Care to illustrate the importance of partnership among community residents? You could paint an elaborate picture of what that looks like in real life in a hundred different ways – a tried-and-true method of acclaimed muralists such as Thomas Hart Benton –and you’d likely be lionized for your thoughtfulness and creativity. Rightly so, in fact.

When it came time to decide the kind of community-unifying message to emblazon the walls of the Phoenix Convention Center, artist Stephen Farley decided to create ten 3’x10’murals, based on photographs he took at locations all over Arizona, of various people shaking hands. He also decided to depict each handshake as a series of tiles – a form called tilography, which was invented by Farley along with a pair of tile fabricators -- rather than as one unbroken shot. How better to convey the idea that reaching across perceived barriers can sometimes amount to a work in progress that requires painstaking care, support and ingenuity?

Here are a few of the subjects in Farley’s epic tilography project, which was commissioned in 2005: A Navajo shakes hands with a Hopi. A farm worker reaches out to embrace the hand of the Monsignor of Yuma. A Kindergarten teacher and a Kindergarten student shake hands. And the vice president of a mining company completes a handclasp with a copper miner.

As expressed on the convention center’s site, “Handshakes express business, welcome, unity, and warmth. These handshakes, so varied in background and nature, represent the grand variety in today’s Arizona. People who encounter the work can find at least one hand that could be theirs.”

While Farley’s work is truly his own, you could create something similar for the walls of your home or business. Might your murals depict the creative collaboration of key individuals within your company? Or how about those special family moments that might serve as an indelible inspirational backdrop in areas such as the family room or study?

You could even attempt the tile effect, if you want. With our custom mural collage option, the final look of your mural is really up to you.