New library mural ‘a really bright, colorful reminder’ of Cynthia Hurd

John L. Dart Library branch manager Kim Odom (left) talks Thursday with artist Nick Kuszyk as she helps him paint a mural of books on the side of the library on upper King Street.

Bright, cheerful and full of joy are just some of the words used to describe Emanuel AME Church shooting victim Cynthia Hurd.

They’re the same words that could be applied to the geometric mural being painted in her honor this week on the side of the John L. Dart Branch Library on upper King Street. Hurd, a 31-year employee of the Charleston County Public Library, was branch manager at the Dart location for 21 years before managing the St. Andrews Regional Library.

“It’s just going to be a really bright, colorful reminder of Cynthia’s personality,” said the library’s manager, Kim Williams Odom.

Hurd was Odom’s mentor and friend of more than 15 years. She said the mural, which features painted books of all sizes and colors, will also be an expression of her friend’s love of literature and commitment to literacy.

“There was no book that was too big or too small for Cynthia,” Odom said.

A key goal for the mural is to also attract people to the library that Hurd held close to her heart even after her promotion, according to Odom. It didn’t take long for that to happen.

“People will stop and say, ‘What’s going on? What’s happening?’” Odom said. “I’ll see the wonder in the children’s eyes as they’re walking past. That’s what I wanted. That’s the key, to get their attention. (The mural has) been a gathering spot, and I think at its heart, that’s what libraries are becoming.”

The project is a collaboration between the library system and Enough Pie, thanks to a donation from Winston & Strawn LLP, an international law firm, to the Cynthia Graham Hurd Memorial Fund. The fund was established at the library by the Graham-Hurd families and will continue to promote outreach and educational programming at the two branches that Hurd managed during her career.

Artist and author Nick Kuszyk, known as R Robots, is painting the memorial mural. His second day on the job, he also held a workshop with Enough Pie’s executive director, Cathryn Zommer, for children to paint their own murals for the library book carts.

Zommer said there were about 20 children who participated.

“We mimicked his process,” she said. “It’s been amazing.”

Kuszyk was modest when asked about his work and said the focus should be on Hurd. He said he was honored to be part of the project and would be taking his time to get it finished.

“These are the kind of projects that are so rare and so special,” he said, adding that the memorial encompasses topics including community, activism, education, race and culture. “This is like the quintessential public responsibility art opportunity.”

Reach Melissa Boughton at 843-937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.