Mural by Kerry James Marshall Honors Women in the Arts
A gift to the city, Kerry James Marshall’s largest artwork to-date honors 20 iconic Chicago women. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), alongside internationally renowned artist and MacArthur Fellow Kerry James Marshall, recently unveiled his epic, large-scale mural on the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.).
The mural honors 20 women who have shaped the city’s vibrant arts and culture landscape. The 132-foot by 100-foot mural is the largest artwork Marshall has ever designed or created.
“Kerry James Marshall’s new mural on the iconic Chicago Cultural Center is not just a celebration of Chicago’s legacy of public art, but it is also a continuation of creativity and culture that continues to inspire us,” Mayor Emanuel said.
The mural is funded by Murals of Acceptance, whose goal is to bring art to all people in a free public setting. Murals of Acceptance was founded by Chicago native Kevin McCarthy and is supported by Marc and Lynne Benioff and by Patricia Arquette and David Arquette. The mural is located on the building’s Garland Court façade, between Washington and Randolph Streets.
The 20 women represented in Kerry James Marshall’s mural are a who’s who of Chicago’s arts and culture community; some include Jackie Taylor, Founder and CEO, Black Ensemble Theater; Monica Haslip, Founder and Executive Director, Little Black Pearl; Abena Joan Brown, Founder, eta Creative Arts Foundation; Margaret Burroughs, Founder, DuSable Museum of African American History; Gwendolyn Brooks, Literary Icon; Oprah Winfrey, Cultural Icon; Joan Gray, Dancer and Longtime President of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall is an artist and MacArthur Fellow. A deeply accomplished artist, Marshall uses many types of mediums, including collage, drawings, murals and even comic books. His work is known for referencing African American culture and history, including the Civil Rights era and the Black Power movement. Painting in a Realist style, he depicts dark figures that celebrate Black beauty and confront general racial stereotypes within contemporary American society. He has received solo exhibitions throughout Europe and North America and his work has been included in such prestigious international exhibitions as the 1997 Whitney Biennial, the 2003 Venice Biennial, the 2009 Gwangju Biennial, two Documentas (1997 and 2007) and the 1999 Carnegie International. Debuting at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in April 2016, Marshall’s retrospective Mastry spanned his 35-year career and included nearly 80 original pieces.