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'The Chicago 77' Celebrates Community Across Chicago

By Margaret Paulson in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 20, 2015 9:15PM

The Chicago 77 exhibit, which opens today at The Poetry Foundation, makes poetry out of found text and objects from Chicago’s 77 distinct communities. The unique project is a combined effort by four Chicago-based artists and poets: Fo Wilson, Jamila Woods, Fatimah Asghar and Krista Franklin.

The artists and poets were assigned 19 neighborhoods each to explore and get to know over a three-month period. Then, participants chose one found object— be it a wrapper, a feather or a bottle cap— from each neighborhood that they felt represented them — “a sign hanging in a window, a portion of an overheard conversation or graffiti.”

The objects and text were embedded in handmade paper to create a 77-line poem that provides a unique representation of Chicago as a whole.

In fact, the makings of The Chicago 77 exhibit began back in August, when a papermaking workshop was held at the Papermaker’s Garden at the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago. Aside from learning how to make homemade paper, the public was invited to bring an article of clothing, a part of themselves, if you will, to add to the pulp mix used to create the paper for poem.

The exhibit runs through May 29 at The Poetry Foundation (61 W. Superior St.)