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Chicago Mural 'Rebirth' Celebrates LGBTQ Pride, Breaking Barriers

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CHICAGO (CBS) --  While the annual Pride parade in Chicago was postponed because of COVID-19, there's a different kind of Pride celebration taking place in Hyde Park for the public to enjoy.

Chicago artists Andy Bellomo and Sandra Antongiorgi painted a mural to showcase queer artists of color and those who use their work to create social change.

"Rebirth" is located in Flood's Hall in Hyde Park. It's the second of a collaborative mural series representing people who are uplifting the LGBTQ community in unique ways. It's described as "an explosion of colors, energy and spiritual vibration."

Pride Mural, 1
(Credit: Chi Nwosu)

"Our goal is to bring attention to the systemic issues that continue to create inequities for queer people, specifically queer people of color, and celebrate the folks who are breaking barriers," said artist Andy Bellomo. "When agencies like Flood's Hall, Brave Space Alliance, Rebirth Garments and the mission of our projects cross-promote and work toward the same goals, the possibilities extend to true social change."

The mural was painted and features the image of Sky Cubacub, founder of Rebirth Garments, a clothing line aimed at creating gender non-conforming wearables and accessories "for people on the full spectrum of gender, size and ability."

Cubacub, is a nonbinary queer and disabled Flipinx. Rebirth creates handmade garments that "allow people to confidently express their individuality and identify while feeling comfortable in their own skin."

"Sky is doing amazing work and we're excited to capture their story and embody their spirit of 'radical visibility' through this mural," said Sandra Antongiorgi.

The project, its conception and other elements, began back in January. It was painted over several weekends back in March and finished for Flood's Hall in May. Because of COVID-19, the artists worked on separate days and in isolation. Antongiorgi, also a well-known Chicago musician, met Bellomo at an artists' exhibit and concert.

Pride Mural, 2
(Credit: Chi Nwosu)

"We decided to have a group exhibition and a musical performance. We invited a couple of other artists to be part of the exhibit. That's when I met Andy Bellomo. I loved her work and we immediately hit it off," remembered Antongiorgi.

"This is so true! I immediately was obsessed with Sandra's paintings and danced all night to her band. It was a great night filled with talented artists and great music," Bellomo said, who added that along with the beautiful colors, the artwork has a message.

"To bring attention to the systemic issues that continue to create inequities for queer people, specifically queer people of color, and celebrate the folks who are breaking barriers," said Bellomo.

The series began in 2018 with the creation of "The Love I Vibrate" painted on the side of the Howard Brown Health Center. That mural was a collaboration between Sandra Antongiorgi, Andy Bellomo and artist Sam Kirk.

Howard Brown Mural
(Credit: CBS)

According to the artists, the murals "elevate those members of the LGBTQ community who are doing the work by literally magnifying the size of their portraits and putting these images in the center of public life."

The artists said they'll continue to honor the LGBTQ community with more murals in the future. They said one of the goals is to paint a large-scale mural featuring the organization Brave Space Alliance. BSA is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago. There are also plans to honor Darling Shear, a Chicago trans woman, performer and dancer. The hope is to have funding for the mural later this summer.

Pride Mural, 3
(Credit: Chi Nwosu)

"This work is not just opening a dialogue about homophobia but queer artists are creating anti-racist platforms, programming and artwork, fighting against transphobia and generally creating work that supports all marginalized groups."

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