In Back of the Yards, Chicago artist’s mural features characters he sketched in high school
Artist FRILLZ says he wanted the mural to capture a sense of the Southwest Side neighborhood, and ‘light the way’ for kids there.
Chicago’s murals & mosaics
Part of a series on public art in the city and suburbs. More murals are added every week.
They’re part of a 50-feet-wide, 14-feet-high mural that transformed the viaduct at 49th Street and Damen Avenue into something the artist hopes will inspire kids in the Southwest Side neighborhood.
It includes images of a diverse group of kids and one bulldog and a banner unfurled above their heads that says “light the way for los niños.”
The artist — who goes by the name FRILLZ — says someone who lives in the neighborhood who didn’t like the way the viaduct had been spattered with graffiti approached him about painting a mural there.
The cartoon-like appearance of the characters reflect the artist’s style — especially his signature bulldog.
But that’s also an artifact of the characters’ origins. FRILLZ, who’s 21, says he was always artistically inclined but didn’t start doing street art till his teachers asked him during his sophomore year at Schurz High School to help design a school mural. He says he “did a bunch of quick sketches” of his school’s bulldog mascot.
A few years later, doodles like those that he once drew in class ended up on stickers and murals across Chicago as his career as an artist took off.
The bulldog’s cactus arms are among symbols of the artist’s Mexican heritage he incorporates in his work.
“I’ll put Mexican symbols or try to put my character in familiar situations where people of similar backgrounds can relate to,” he says.
The painting features a heart with a flaming torch and the words “Back of the Yards” — reminiscent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a common symbol in the Catholic faith.
The artist spells out exactly what the message is within the mural itself: “Believe in the children and their magic will teach you about the wonders of what believing in yourself can do.”
He says he hopes the mural will “motivate children from all different backgrounds.”
“If you want to do something, go all out,” he says.