Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where There is Discord, Harmony: The Power of Art

Where There is Discord, Harmony: The Power of Art, 1991
Olivia Gude and Marcus Akinlana
1801 71st Street

            Sponsored by the Chicago Public Art Group and the Neighborhood Institute, CPAG artists Akinlana and Gude were assisted by eleven area youth to create this 30 by 60 foot mural done in acrylic paint. Before each day’s work on the piece, the group took time for meditation, discussion and a harambee: an African-inspired "coming together" cheer.
This building was once home to "One Artists Row." Along with "Two Artists Row" across the street, during the 1990s it served as an art incubator for African-American artists in the South Shore. As the third in a series of murals created by the South Shore Arts Enterprise, this piece was selected to highlight the building's purpose and reflect the importance of art in all aspects of culture.
The mural focuses on the healing role of the arts in an urban community. In the piece, images of artists' tools mingle with spiritual and cultural symbols from Africa, Europe, Asia and Mexico. The dominating spiral symbolizes the cycle of death and renewed life. In the lower left corner, images of a discarded fine art frame and the burning billboard with cigarette and alcohol ads showcase that visual arts can serve negative or empty purposes. Also included in the work are poems by five local poets.
Gude, an artist and educator, was awarded the commission for the state of Kentucky in 2000 as one of 56 artists for Artists & Communities: America Creates for the Millennium, a MidAtlantic Arts Foundation program that sponsored community-based arts residencies, one in each state and the territory. Akinlana owns a fine art studio/company based in New Orleans called Positive Creations. After Hurricane Katrina flooded his home, he lived for many months in his studio, surrounding himself with his work.

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