Spreading cheer in the Dicken neighborhood
by Shelley Daily
From the June, 2020 issue
"We wanted to spread some cheer," says Valerie Molloy about the poster project she and her husband, Ryan, launched in early April in their Dicken neighborhood. Valerie, who works for Michigan Medicine in development, and Ryan, who teaches graphic design at EMU, offer the fluorescent-colored "positivity posters" free to passersby from a wooden stand near their house. Each saying in the series (twenty-one at press time) is designed to "make people smile," Valerie says, including, "You Got This," "Only Good Vibes," "Keep on Keepin' On," and "Do Good Things."
"I'd always wanted to do an art version of the Little [Free] Libraries I see around town," says Ryan, who was also inspired by the uplifting sidewalk chalk messages he saw in his neighborhood after the stay-at-home order went into effect. They use Valerie's flower photography for the posters' backgrounds, and Ryan overlays them with what he calls "word art on steroids." They crank out the posters--up to a couple hundred a week--on their basement Risograph machine ("kind of like a digital mimeograph machine," Ryan explains), and announce each edition via Next Door, Instagram, and Facebook. In good weather, the posters "go in a day," Valerie says.
When the Molloys walk their border-collie mix, Maddy, they enjoy seeing the posters displayed in neighbors' windows and on doors. Some posters have made their way to Ypsi and to Mott Children's Hospital--and others are en route to family and friends in their native Texas.
The Molloys plan to keep creating at least until the stay-at-home order expires, but, even when it ends, neighborhood art lovers should keep on the lookout. Ryan says he "might transition to an art
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