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Massive Michelle Obama Mural Would Inspire South Side Girls, Artist Says

 Artist Chris Devins wants to install a mural of first lady Michelle Obama on the outside of Bouchet School, 7355 S. Jeffery Ave.
Artist Chris Devins wants to install a mural of first lady Michelle Obama on the outside of Bouchet School, 7355 S. Jeffery Ave.
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Chris Devins

SOUTH SHORE — First Lady Michelle Obama is a symbol of hope and pride for many young women everywhere, especially black girls, local artist and Hyde Park native Chris Devins said.

That's why Devins is raising $5,000 through GoFundMe to put a photo mural of her face on the outside of Bouchet School, 7355 S. Jeffery Ave. The wife of America's first black president attended the school as a child.

The mural would be put on a 15-foot wall.

“What I like about that is that people, and the little girls in the neighborhood, will literally be looking up to this lady,” Devins said.

Hear Andrea describe the murals Chris Devins creates.

The total cost of the mural is $15,000, and Devins said he will match every $1 pledged by the community and match each dollar with another $1 raised from local community organizations and politicians.

The idea originated from South Shore resident Lavonte Stewart, who works for Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago). He said he grew up near the school and was one day thinking how a mural would be a great way to honor the first lady. Stewart said he has been a big fan of Devins’ work for a while, so he decided to reach out.

Devins is known for his large outdoor murals of A. Philip Randolph, Common, Lorraine Hansberry, Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong, and he recently finished the art at the new Bronzeville Mariano’s, along with several other art initiatives.

Louis Armstrong photo mural. [Photo: Chris Devins Creative] 

Through running a nonprofit in the community, Stewart said he knows firsthand the impact that can be made when a girl sees someone who looks like her.

“It is so empowering to see someone who looks like you, who’s the same gender as you and it’s even more so when that person comes from your own community,” he said.

Stewart said he believes the mural will be more than an inspiration.

“I think it has a huge potential from an economic perspective and a tourist perspective,” he said.

“I think there can be potential once the Obama library is in place," he said, referring to the presidential library coming to Jackson Park.

The installation would take about four days, said Devins, who would like to see it up as early as late March.

He too sees the mural as more than art. With a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Devins said he has always combined his passion in street art with urban planning.

“I’m always interested in transforming communities with public art installations and murals that reaffirm community identity,” he said.

His goal is to highlight some of the positive things that have come from the South Side.

“I want to start a conversation of what South Shore is about, what distinctive qualities it has to offer and what separates it from other neighborhoods in the city,” he said.

Want to see the mural come to life? Donate here. 

Common photo mural in Chatham. [Photo: Chris Devins Creative] 

Chance The Rapper Mural. [Photo: Chris Devins Creative] 

Pullman Porters photo mural. [Photo: Chris Devins Creative] 

Jennifer Hudson mural. [Photo: Chris Devins Creative] 

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