Visitation Realization

Title:  Visitation Realization

Site:  Visitation Elementary School
900 W. Garfield Boulevard, Chicago

Artists:  Bernard Williams

Assistants: Derrick Holley

Community Participants: GATX volunteers

Sponsors: Gallery 37 and General American Transportation Express (GATX)

Year:  1998

Scale:  21 x 63 feet

Materials:  Acrylic paint on masonry

Information:  CPAG artist Bernard Williams designed this mural with a pre-planned structure that involved the use of mostly flat black symbols. The symbols are arranged in a horizontal format that stretches the length of the wall. Each symbol is also placed on a horizontal black line, which functions like the line on ruled notebook paper. The end result is a rather ordered collection of various signs and symbols that resemble ancient Mexican or Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Individual elements for this particular design were taken from archive photos at Visitation School, student drawings and conversations, and the artist’s personal collection of signs and symbols. Some circular elements were taken from photos of stained glass found in the Visitation Church across the street from the school. The image of a Catholic nun, a Catholic mission, an honored saint, and a decorative cross all exist in the left area of the wall. The right portions of the wall host elements that symbolize or speak about industry and transportation. These images reflect the concerns of the GATX Corporation; an airplane, a freight truck, a barge, and machine parts are illustrated. Whirling in and out of these specific concerns are cultural symbols from African, Mexican, and Native American sources. Popular culture is seen in autos and houses and education and community life is also reflected.