top of page



Project Description: 

- Artist: Carolyn Elaine

- Participants: Hyde Park Academy Students &   Senior  Citizens from Woodlawn Community

- Sponsorship: This project is partially supported by the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Neighborhood Arts Program

- 40 sq ft Broken Tile Mosaic- Exterior Installation 


Whispers from the Elders is a cross-generational artwork resulting from dialogue between high school students at Hyde Park Academy H.S. and residents of a neighboring senior citizens housing complex. The theme addresses the many thoughts, ideas and proposed solutions for changing our world from a violent to non violent existence. After many round table discussions lead by mosaic artist Carolyn Elaine, the group agreed on several symbols, verses and quotations to include in the artwork. Understanding that this is a global issue, messages of Peace, Love and Respect, were written in languages such as Spanish, French, German and Swahili. Asian and West African symbols were also incorporated.


There was a consensus that the Sankofa Bird was the most profound symbol used in the mosaic. The Sankofas’ head is always turned backwards, thus facing the past. It carries the egg of the future in it’s’ mouth. This symbol represents the old African adage “Always remember the past for therein lies the future; if forgotten we are destined to repeat it”.


During this project many stories were shared between the two generations. The youth were encouraged to always remember the past struggles for peace and equality and the lives lost in order for them to have the freedoms they enjoy today. While seated at the feet of their elders, the teens were passed the torch and charged to strive for peace among their own people as well as the rest of the world.


The actual design and tessellation of the 50 Square feet mosaic took place at the high school and was installed around the base of the octagon shaped cement flower bed located in front of the school’s entrance. The colorful images and sparkling mirror used in the design will draw viewers in to read the powerful messages that serve as food for thought for all who admire it.

Whispers of the Elders (2004)

bottom of page