You Are Not Alone Mural Project

by Molly Gilmore

Elisa Del Giudice’s You Are Not Alone mural is part of a nationwide project aimed at spreading hope and sparking conversation about mental health. Photos courtesy of Elisa Del Giudice (Instagram:

“You Are Not Alone.” That’s the message, painted in enormous letters, of the mural covering one side of the Plum Street YMCA. The mural, created by Elisa Del Giudice of Olympia, is part of the Olympia Artspace Alliance and Parking & Business Improvement Area’s Downtown Mural Project. It’s also part of an international series of works aimed at creating hope and connection and encouraging conversation about mental health.

Elisa Del Giudice (foreground) painted the mural with help from many volunteers, including her wife, Tam Nguyen. Photos courtesy of Elisa Del Giudice

It’s also a reflection of Del Giudice’s values — and of her love for her hometown. “I grew up here, and anytime I’ve moved away, I’ve come back,” she said. “It’s the place I’ve come back to for safety and sanctuary. I pursued my education here; I raised my son here; I came out as gay here. It’s where I’ve felt safe to do all the things I’ve had to do. I never had to do any of it alone.”

The words on the mural and the color scheme — black, white, yellow and gray — were dictated by the project (, based in Brooklyn, New York. The hand-rendered type and the objects surrounding the words are all Del Giudice’s.

“I made it very Olympia,” said Del Giudice, a graphic designer and logo designer. “I brought in elements from the Procession of the Species — a jellyfish and a mushroom that mirror each other. The procession is a beacon of hope, and it’s celebratory, and it’s just so Olympia.

“I put arms around the words to represent how the community has wrapped its arms around me during tough times in my life,” she said. “I put two trillium flowers to represent recovery, but they’re also a nod to Friends of LBA Woods, who fought to keep those woods from being developed. Those woods are really important to me and my family. It’s a little pocket of specialness, and I wanted to represent that.”

The mural is meant to serve as a gateway to downtown. Lesli Baker, the South Sound YMCA’s health and well-being director, got excited about participating in the project as soon as she heard about it at a PBIA meeting. “They needed a wall and I had a wall,” she said. “And I had a desire to beautify the Plum Street Y. … I love downtown Olympia and wanted to make something happen.”

Baker and her colleagues created a creative brief for the mural: “It’s important that the design embody the themes of strengthening the foundation of community and show our commitment to welcoming ALL through this gateway to the heart of Olympia. The message should convey a genuine determined feeling of hope for a bright future while acknowledging our shared history.”

Artist Elisa Del Giudice stood on a hydraulic lift to paint a mural on the Downtown YMCA. Photo by Russell Moore (Instagram: @russellm18)

It was Del Giudice who saw the link between the YMCA’s goals and the You Are Not Alone project. “I had been following this movement, and I had been wanting to do one of these murals for a while,” she said. “As I read the brief, I was like, ‘This message aligns really well.’ … I knew I wanted to do it. It was bigger than me.”

The South Sound YMCA’s Lesli Baker (left) and Del Giudice became friends while working on the mural project. Photos courtesy of Elisa Del Giudice

“Elisa really stood out not only as an artist in her own right and her own vision but also in her desire to be involved in You Are Not Alone murals,” Baker said. “It also said so much about our values here at the Y in just four short words.”

Del Giudice wanted to create a mural for the Downtown Mural Project because it offered her the opportunity to contribute to the community and to do more physical work in addition to the design she does on a computer. “This was a really good experience, being at the YMCA,” she said. “I was able to talk to people and spread the word about what was going on.”

Her other mural that’s more or less on public view is inside Athena Fitness and Wellness in Olympia, and she’s hoping to continue doing murals along with her graphic and logo design work through Bent Design Co. (, which she runs with her wife, Tam Nguyen.

Del Giudice will be showing more of her work ( at the YMCA during Fall Arts Walk, including photos of pieces that can’t be transported.

You Are Not Alone Mural and Elisa Del Giudice art

Plum Street YMCA, 505 Plum St SE, Olympia, WA 98501