Encourage Change (2016)
This 900 square feet mural titled “Encourage Change” is on the Chicago side of the green line viaduct at Austin and Lake. It is the response to last summers mural (on the Austin side) entitled “You Are The Answer”. The seven section composition conveys three messages: Community, Compassion and Family.
At the beginning of this 2016 summer program the apprentices solicited input from community residents through asking random people a series of questions concerning the issues of the Austin community. During this process Andrew Holmes ( a very well known community activist), just happened to be headed to catch the train. He generously gave of his time and shared is concerns about the community. Mr. Homes spoke heavily about how he feels that the broken family structure is the source of many problems, "families don't even sit at the table and eat together anymore”. His words drove the imagery for this mural.
An array of imagery is used to communicate the three main messages of the composition. The left side of the mural starts with a silhouette of an elder who often carries the traditions, values and culture to be passed on to future generations. Behind him are many autumn leaves that indicate that he is in the fall season of life. The silhouette on the right side of the mural depicts a teenage girl. The colorful flowers flowing around the back of her head indicate new life and growth: the Spring and Summer seasons of life. The motif of flowers is mirrored from the mural that was created on the Oak Park side of the viaduct last summer (2015), titled “You Are The Answer”.
Other subtle indicators of generational divide can be seen within both of the silhouettes. For example two clocks are used: one clock being digital and the other analog, showing the change in times. The figure at the dinner table within the elder’s shilouette offers a plate of food while the figure at the dinner table within the teenage girl’s silhouette holds an electronic device. This reiterates Holmes’ point about the disconnect of families within the home, "The dinner table is where family used to learn values and family history”. Buildings that represent community are the backdrop for the dinner table scenes. They are highlighted by converging lines that show a neighborhood striving towards the common goals of Community, Compassion and Family.
That common goal is represented in the center of the mural by the image of a two parent family. Although the family may not be fully unified in this image, the father and child reaching for one another is a sign of hope. Below the family the words “ENCOURAGE CHANGE" promote the message of people doing their part to change themselves and the community because the mural on the other side often reminds that, “YOU ARE THE ANSWER".