Artist: New Cultural Center mural echoes Chicago’s past

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The city unveiled a 132-foot by 100-foot mural by Kerry James Marshall, honoring 20 women who have shaped the city’s arts and culture landscape, on an alley outside the Chicago Cultural Center on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

With his Cultural Center mural featuring 20 women who shaped Chicago, artist Kerry James Marshall pointed out on Monday that the piece echoes the message of 50-year-old mural on the South Side: “The Wall of Respect.”


City to dedicate Kerry James Marshall mural on Cultural Center facade

“The Wall of Respect,” was painted on the exterior of an abandoned liquor store at 42nd and Langley in 1967 and features Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, among others.

“If what that ‘Wall of Respect’ idea meant was anything, it meant what all of these women have meant for Chicago,” Marshall said at the unveiling. “If you think there’s something that needs to be done, go out and do it.”

Marshall also said he was pleased with not just the overall turnout for the new mural’s dedication, but to see that some of the women depicted also attended.

“I’m really pleased to see how many people have come out for this dedication,” Marshall said. “This is actually really a very special moment for me and I hope a very special moment for all of them.”



The 20 women featured in the mural are:

Gwendolyn Brooks, Illinois Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner

Abena Joan Brown, founder of eta Creative Arts Foundation

Cheryl Lynn Bruce, actress and co-founder of Goodman Theatre’s Dearborn Homes Youth Drama Workshop

Margaret Burroughs, founder of DuSable Museum of African American History

Sandra Cisneros, literary icon

Maggie Daley, longest-serving First Lady of the City of Chicago

Sandra Delgado, founding ensemble member of Collaboraction Theatre

Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Susanne Ghez, director and chief curator of The Renaissance Society

Joan Gray, dancer and president of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago

Monica Haslip, founder and executive director of Little Black Pearl

Barbara Jones-Hogu, founding member of AfriCobra artists collective

Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry Magazine

Achy Obejas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Ruth Page, dancer/choreographer and founder of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

Jacqueline Russell, founder and artistic director of Chicago Children’s Theatre

Jane Saks, founding director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute and Project&

Jackie Taylor, founder/CEO of Black Ensemble Theater

Lois Weisberg, longest-serving commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs

Oprah Winfrey, cultural icon, media mogul/honorary Oscar winner

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