Fabric of Our Lives

Title:  Fabric of Our Lives

Site:  Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center
3003 W. Touhy Avenue, Chicago

Artists: Miriam Socoloff and Cynthia Weiss

Assistant: Martin Fox, Walter Schoonbrun, Leo Schlossberg, and Myron Perlman

Community Participants: 50 community volunteers

Sponsors:  West Rogers Park Jewish Mural Committee, Chicago Public Art Group

Year:  1980

Scale:  12 x 14 feet

Materials: Ceramic and glass tile

Information:  This ceramic and glass tile work--CMG’s first mosaic--was inspired by a line from Irving Howe’s World of Our Fathers, “They reached for the heavens with dust on their shoes.” The design depicts the fabric of Jewish immigrant life, labor, and culture in Chicago--from sweatshops and tenements to Yiddish theater and music to the trade union movement and labor organizing. Depicted in the mural’s background is the now-lost Maxwell Street market area. The project, supported by Jewish agencies as well as historical societies and labor unions, was completed with the help of fifty community volunteers, many of them senior citizens.

This influential piece encouraged numerous Chicago artists to work in the form of community mosaics. From this beginning, CPAG artists, working in various collaborations, created a Chicago mosaic style that is characterized by its stylish and varied tile work.