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Project Description: 

- Artist: Carolyn Elaine and Nina Smoot-Cain

- Sponsorship: Bethel New Life and Chicago Public Art Group

- 160 sq. ft. Broken Tile Mosaic- Exterior Installation 


Although Carolyn Elaine and Nina Smoot-Cain had never had the opportunity to work together on a project, both Chicago Public Art Group artists quickly established a work style that complemented both in content, spirit, energy and intent.


UJAMAA is a 160 square feet exterior installation on the façade of The Bethel Center, located at the corner of West Lake Street and North Pulaski. The Mosaic, designed in two parts is infused with symbolism pertaining to Bethel’s mission to empower individuals, strengthen families and build a healthier, sustainable west side community. This mission honors Ujamaa (cooperative economics) – one of the principals of Kwanza.




The crossed curves of the Ujamaa (south/west side of the building), symbolize the connections our paths must take for success.


Fish – give a man a fish you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish- you feed him for a life time.


Checker Board – Symbolizes the Game of Life.


Clock – (numbers falling off of the clock) – Asks people to be reminded that time is running out – must step up to the task at hand in the community.


Buildings – Symbols of the Community.


Ladder – Reflects the spirituality/foundation of the community of Bethel New Life.


Moon & Stars – Possibilities for the Future – Reach for the Stars & Moon.


On the north/east side of the building stands a Hip Hop Boy representing the current generation of youth in the community.


Woman in the Window – represents wisdom of the older generation (she is passing down the symbol of Ujamaa to the Hip Hop Boy.


Floating Pieces of Paper that wrap the corner of the building – send various messages to the community such as Read and Sing.


Father & Son – Reading together – reminding men of nurturing responsibilities


Mother & Daughter – Embracing – traditional roles (passing them on but not limiting them).


Quilt – Family Heritage


Love – A message to the Community.

Ujamaa (2005)

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