New Murals at Erikson Institute
In the days following the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and so many others, we were encouraged to see diverse groups of Chicagoans protesting racial injustice and systemic anti-Black racism. And while Erikson’s building experienced some physical damage during the unrest, we know nothing compares to the loss of Black lives.
As we shared last month, a few of our lobby windows were shattered and subsequently boarded up with plywood. When we learned the plywood would need to be up through September, we decided to engage an artist to paint an inspiring mural over the boards featuring children. We connected with the Paint the City project, a group of nearly 100 local black and brown artists creating beautiful murals over boarded up buildings across Chicago.
Dana Todd Pope was asked to paint our installation, given her specific experience painting children and young people. She was immediately inspired by Erikson’s mission, and designed a mural she named, “The Kids Are Watching.” It shows children taking the lead and protesting in honor of Black lives and racial equity, and encouraging an adult to join the fight.
Dana has shared with us that the response to the mural so far has been overwhelmingly positive. People have stopped to take photos and have clapped for the message from their cars. She’s also said it has sparked a few “uncomfortable looks,” which she sees as a positive. Her goal was to make people think and remind them what’s at stake when our children are experiencing racism and other forms of oppression. And while we continue pushing for internal change at Erikson that dismantles structural racism, our hope is that the mural serves as a constant visual reminder of the work that must be done.
If you are near the River North area, please feel free to visit the mural and see it in person. If you share images on social media, consider tagging @DanaToddPope to your post. You can also view some of our pictures of the process below. Special thanks to all involved, especially Dana, who helped bring these compelling images to life.