CPL Locations Host Anti-Violence Public Art Projects

Three Chicago Public Library locations are now host to anti-violence community public art projects commissioned by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Learn more about the artwork created by Aram Han Sifuentes, James Jankowiak and Dorian Sylvain.

Uptown Branch

Artwork: "Monty and Rose: A Migration Love Story" by Dorian Sylvain

"Monty and Rose: A Migration Love Story" tells the inspiring story of Monty and Rose, the piping plovers who made history at Montrose Beach in 2019 by successfully breeding after an absence of plovers for over 70 years. Through Sylvain's artistry, Monty and Rose symbolize the welcoming spirit of Uptown, offering a first home and a fresh start to people from all corners of the globe in the United States. The mural can be viewed on the wall above the Uptown Branch circulation desk.

A dedication ceremony will take place 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. The event will include a reading of Tamima Itani's book about Monty and Rose by the author herself, music from Brennemann Elementary School and the People's School of Music, a bird-themed craft session led by muralist Sylvain, snacks courtesy of Buena Park Neighbors, speeches and a screening of the documentary Monty and Rose 2 with director Bob Dolgan and Leslie Borns, Founder and Volunteer Steward of Montrose Beach Dunes.

West Lawn Branch

Artwork: "Our Collective Catalog / Nuestro Catálogo" by James Jankowiak

"Our Collective Catalog / Nuestro Catálogo Colectivo" was realized through deep engagement with library staff and community and led to locally relevant symbolism being incorporated into the artwork. The challenge of the curved brick wall was met by making each section an independent panel so that the artwork and the building work in physical harmony as the painting seeks to foster social harmony.

Artist Jankowiak addressed the term “The Beloved Community,” which was coined by Josiah Royce, a philosopher/theologian who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation, of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a member. Dr. King brought this term to the forefront of the Civil Rights movement and its enduring popularity still resonates today.

The community and staff found a statement online about the term “Beloved Community” that they felt reflected the West Lawn community’s history, particularly with Dr. King’s proximity to the neighborhood during the march for equitable housing in Marquette and Gage Park:

“A beloved community can begin in conflict and suffering and end in reconciliation, justice and forgiveness…The foundations of such a community are: being fully heard and seen, trusting and being trusted, and, finally, freely giving and getting support. In a beloved community, individuals mirror the best parts of each other and themselves, reflecting what a more enlightened future might look like; in a beloved community one always wants only the best for others and is fully committed to the empowerment of all community members.” - Associated Students of University of California, Santa Barbara

Brighton Park Branch

Artwork: Protest Banner Lending Library by Aram Han Sifuentes

The Protest Banner Lending Library is a series of protest banners created by community members with the guidance of artist Sifuentes, who asked participants of her workshops, “What do you stand for? What do you stand against? What is important to you right now? What are messages you would want to see in this space? What are statements that you can make to affirm you and your communities? What are your hopes and desires for the future?” The themes focused on anti-violence and community power.

The social outcomes are impressing upon people their access to a sense of ownership of social engagement and empowering them to protest, which brings people together and creates community.