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South Side Murals: The Struggle Continues, Part 2

By Laura M. Browning in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 21, 2011 5:00PM

Yesterday we looked at some lost murals in Hyde Park, which were whitewashed a couple years ago to make room for new ones. The north wall of the viaduct is now covered with a mosaic-mural bricolage in the style of the North Side murals at Foster and Bryn Mawr, and the south viaduct wall includes more local imagery like a Metra train and prominent black Chicagoans Jean Baptiste Point DuSable and Gwendolyn Brooks. The new murals are gorgeous, no question, but we're still sad to have lost the old ones.

Artist Favianna Rodriguez was responsible for one of the old murals that has since been lost to whitewash, and we asked how she felt about the new murals going up. Since she doesn’t live in the area, she was surprised that her mural had been painted over, and she said she was surprised at the lack of notification (normally muralists would be contacted before their work is painted over).

“Chicago is one of the areas in the U.S. that has very much valued the contributions of Latino artists. I wanted to be a part of that Chicago history.

“I believe that as artists, we should never underestimate the impact our work has on viewers. I know that mural was seen by thousands, and in whatever way, it was a part of their lives. Murals, public art, or putting your art in a lot of community spaces… it’s a very important part of my process.

“It’s disappointing for me to understand how this mural was taken down. I have no photos of it. When you begin to undo the history behind the art, you’re undoing the value not just in the piece itself, but in the value and intention of the artist. It’s important to understand the history of all those pieces.”