Benu: The Rebirth of South Shore

Title:  Benu: The Rebirth of South Shore

Site:  Jeffery Plaza
71st Street and Jeffrey Boulevard, Chicago

Artists:  Marcus Akinlana, and Joe Matunis

Assisting Artists: Jeffrey Cook and Kiela Smith

Community Participants: Samuel Byrd, Brandon Smith, Patricia Travis, Celestine Williams, Lashawna Bolden, Tonita Burns, Shauntia Luellen, Morgan Kurtiss, Latrice Wallace, and James Witt

Sponsors:  Chicago Public Art Group and The Neighborhood Institute

Year:  1990, 1995 restored

Scale:  20 x 60 feet

Materials:  Acrylic paint on masonry and polychromed concrete relief

Information:  Incorporating concrete relief, this mural on a formerly hidden wall exposed to a new parking lot presents Benu, the golden phoenix of ancient Egypt, as a metaphor for the economic and cultural revival of the South Shore community. A Moses-like figure leads the people through parted, concrete waves of water. All eyes are turned to the dynamic figure of Oya, the woman warrior orisha who symbolizes revolutionary change. Interwoven with the wings of Benu, are images of local landmarks as well as street signs prescribing self-pride, respect for others, and cultural awareness as the route to community strength and vitality. The mural was restored by the artists in 1995 after the wall was tuckpointed.