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City Unveils Mural Honoring 20 Iconic Chicago Women

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) unveiled a mural honoring 20 women who have helped shape the city's  arts and culture landscape.

The large-scale 132-foot by 100-foot mural was designed by artist and MacArthur Fellow Kerry James Marshall. It can be seen on the Chicago Cultural Center building's Garland Court façade, between Washington and Randolph streets.

"When I was asked to design a mural, it was immediately clear to me that the site had to be 'opened up' in some way," Marshall said. "My solution was a park-like view with a bright sun and stand of trees to bring light and green space to the location while at the same time honoring the mission of the building as the hub of artistic activity in Chicago.

"My idea was to make of the trees a kind of Forest Rushmore acknowledging the contribution of 20 women who've worked to shape the cultural landscape of the city, past and present."

The 20 women featured in Marshall's mural are:

  • Susanne Ghez, Director and Chief Curator for nearly 40 years, The Renaissance Society
  • Barbara Gaines, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
  • Jacqueline Russell, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Children's Theatre
  • Ruth Page, Dancer, Choreographer and Founder, Ruth Page Center for the Arts
  • Lois Weisberg, Longest-serving Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Maggie C. Daley, Longest-serving First Lady of the City of Chicago
  • Jackie Taylor, Founder and CEO, Black Ensemble Theater
  • Monica Haslip, Founder and Executive Director, Little Black Pearl
  • Abena Joan Brown, Founder, eta Creative Arts Foundation
  • Margaret Burroughs, Founder, DuSable Museum of African American History
  • Harriet Monroe, Founder, Poetry Magazine
  • Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Co-founder, Goodman Theatre / Dearborn Homes Youth Drama Workshop
  • Sandra Delgado, Founding Ensemble Member, Collaboraction
  • Jane M. Saks, President and Artistic Director, Project& and Founding Executive Director, Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media
  • Barbara Jones-Hogu, Founding Member, AfriCobra
  • Gwendolyn Brooks, Literary Icon
  • Sandra Cisneros, Literary Icon
  • Achy Obejas, Award-winning writer
  • Oprah Winfrey, Cultural Icon
  • Joan Gray, Dancer and Longtime President of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago

"Chicago is recognized across the country and around the world as an epicenter of innovative art, architecture and design," Emanuel said during Monday's unveiling. "Kerry James Marshall's new mural on the iconic Chicago Cultural Center is not just a celebration of Chicago's legacy of public art, but it is also a continuation  of creativity and culture that continues to inspire us."

The design and vision created by Marshall was executed by Chicago mural artist Jeff Zimmermann and his team, according to the Mayor's Press Office.

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