Comunidad, Si. It Takes a Vision

Title:  Comunidad, Si. It Takes a Vision

Site:  Harold Washington Library
400 S. State Street (interior), Chicago

Artists:  Marcus Akinlana, Nina Smoot-Cain, Hector Duarte, Olivia Gude, Roberto Valadez, and John Pitman Weber

  Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs

Year:  1991

Scale:  1017 square feet

Materials:  Acrylic on linen

Information:  A new central library in the city of Chicago became the site for an important collaboration sponsored by the Percent for Arts Program (PAP) of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. With this mural commission, the PAP recognized the important contribution of the community mural movement to the cultural life of the city.

The collaborating artists span three generations of mural artists, all of whom are active in the mural movement today and who have collaborated on projects throughout Chicago. Their goal was to provide a metaphor for the city itself, focusing on people rather than a physical setting. In accord with their understanding of the vision of the late mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington, the artists portrayed the city he loved as the joint creation of diverse populations and neighborhoods, generation after generation. The mural evokes the city’s industrial past as well as fresh images for the late mayor’s (and the artists’) hopes for the city’s renewal. The piece is firmly centered on the positive dynamic of people actively cooperating to accomplish shared goals, but the peripheries suggest the negative potentials of conflict, marginalization, and apathy.