Watch CBS News

West Side 'Still Searching' Exhibit Draws Attention To Missing Black Women And Girls

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Art with a purpose.

The paintings aren't just beautiful. They're designed to help families of missing Black women and girls, who said they urged police and the media to take these cases seriously.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reports a Chicago artist is answering the call with an exhibit of paintings he calls "Still Searching."

"I'm pretty much painting things that I see in the city life but I'm doing it from a spiritual lenses," said artist Damon Lamar Reed. "This project will also get the word out."

He added "I thought to myself 'how can I do something artistically to help the situation?'"

In their bright hues and distinct lines, they tell us attention will be paid here.

Artist Damon Lamar Reed's 19 paintings of missing Black women and girls are on display at the 345 Art Gallery on Chicago's West Side.

They represent countless African American families who insist the disappearances of their female relatives have not been taken seriously by law enforcement or the news media.

"Traditionally in the news media you don't hear that much," Reed said. "Even when I started it was like, wow, this woman is missing, that woman is missing."

Even as cable news breathlessly covered the Gabby Petito case.

Bridgette Rouse's sister Sonya vanished in 2016.

"She was my sister and it feels like she didn't matter," Rouse said. "That she was just some women on the South Side."

Sonya Rouse was a beloved mother and sister. Her portrait is at the gallery.

Damon was inspired to take on this project after he looked into a tragedy in his own family. His aunt and two cousins were murdered in 1984.

"And that case to this day has never been solved," Damon said.

That led him to other unsolved cases and disappearances, and so he painted. Nineteen portraits of women and girls who were loved who deserve to be seen.

"My greatest hope is someone sees a painting, if somebody calls in some information. even if we find answers for one family, that would be wow."

"Still Missing" runs until next week at the 345 Art Gallery at 345 North Kedzie.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.