[The 2011 Mile of Murals Project was awarded to the COMIGO Collaborative. The 252 foot long 7 foot high wall extends from Morse Ave. on the South to Lunt Ave. on the North, at the “el” embankment on the East side of Glenwood Ave. Power washing and cleaning begins next week, priming is scheduled to begin August 16. Painting is scheduled to begin after the Glenwood Ave. Arts festival, which will be held August 20 & 21 this year. COMIGO is an acronym drawn from the birthplaces of the artists. The first photos that follow this duplicate the plans submitted by the artists; the next group are photos of the completed mural, taken October 24, 2012– Lew Rosenbaum]
Mile of Murals Project 2011: Patriotism In Everyday Life
The Artists’ Statement
by COMIGO Collaborative: Juan-Carlos Perez, Chiara Padgett and Diana Berek
We began by asking ourselves, “What is unique about the American people? Who are we anyway?” America is a country of wave upon wave of migrants: ancient people crossing a temporary land bridge across the Bering Straits, migratory mound builders, Europeans explorers, conquerors, entrepreneurs, cultural, political and religious dissidents, exiles, asylum seekers and displaced persons. America is a land of immense diversity declaring its political independence by waging a Revolutionary War, establishing its nationhood with documents expressing revolutionary, democratic idealism, but settling and populating under the imperialist doctrine of manifest destiny, and economically developing through institutionalized slavery and exploitative industrialism. Yet, we Americans love our country with all its contradictions and failings.
What is it that we love? We love the land, its beauty and rich resources. We love the ideals of equality, justice, basic human rights. We love the concept of our freedom and inalienable rights even when we can’t agree on the particulars over who and how to exercise those rights.
The core of our understanding of “Patriotism in Everyday Life” resides in this culturally negotiated understanding of “freedom”, i.e. in the perceptions, contradictions, questions, problems and issues that for more than 200 years continue to be challenged and re-defined. It is embedded in a persistent struggle to define and achieve freedom. It is distinctly opposed to casting American values in bellicose chauvinism, or a belief in national superiority. The American narrative is one of a deep striving toward personal success and individual freedom within a social, economic and political fabric of shared liberty and rights. The movement towards these ideals has been rocky, sometimes heroic and enlightened, sometimes ugly and violent, but the vision continues to inspire.
Another basic element of the theme is “everyday life”. People labor to create homes and food for their families. People labor to organize communities and social values of fairness and welfare. People labor to express ideas and to create science, art, music and tools. “We the people” develop and define our understanding of our inalienable rights through the exercise of our labor and our creativity. We use images that allude to our relationship to the land, to our labor, and to the social relations that create and define community.
Only in this context of “everyday life” can abstract ideals and the exercise of rights be questioned, realized and re-defined. Without the warp and weft of daily life experiences, there is no fabric of realized liberty, there is only myth. Furthermore, it is in the universality of everyday life that we as Americans are connected to the everyday life and struggles of all the people of the world. In this shared experience of everyday, we begin to connect our experience, our striving for liberty, to the global experience and the global striving for liberty. In this inclusive understanding of linking our yearning for human rights and liberty to the global yearning for human rights and liberty, there is hope of our avoiding the historically destructive outcomes of previous national missions towards manifest destiny, conquest and domination.
About the Artists Who Will Paint the Wall
This year, the Rogers Park Business Alliance published an RFP calling for artist collaborative groups to submit mural designs in response to the theme: “Patriotism in Everyday Life”. COMIGO Collaborative was chosen.
COMIGO is Diana Berek, Chiara Padgett, and Juan-Carlos Perez, three Rogers Park artists who have had extensive experience in the visual arts as well as in mural and public arts. They first met when they worked on last year’s Mile of Murals project. Based on their experience of working together on that project, they decided to formally register themselves as a collaborative and respond to this year’s Mile of Murals RFP. COMIGO spent several weeks talking about the theme and developing their conceptual approach before they began to develop their ideas into images that became the design they submitted.
“We believe that murals are a literal extension of the community, as opposed to an art object that is mounted on the wall and can be removed, sold and otherwise treated as a commodity. Painting the wall and encountering the wall while engaged within the daily activity of the street life in the community becomes a vital experience that exists between the creative practice of our artistic intent and the neighborhood viewer’s perception.”
The wall that will be painted this year is located on the east side of Glenwood Avenue between Morse Street & Lunt Avenue. Preparation and power washing the wall will begin August 9. Primer will be applied and COMIGO will begin painting during the week of August 15.
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