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Chicago's Own Mount Rushmore? Huge Mural Will Honor Iconic Chicago Women

By David Matthews | September 21, 2017 12:28pm
 Work will start Thursday on this big mural at the Chicago Cultural Center honoring 20 notable Chicago women.
Work will start Thursday on this big mural at the Chicago Cultural Center honoring 20 notable Chicago women.
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City of Chicago

THE LOOP — Oprah Winfrey, Gwendolyn Brooks and other powerful women in Chicago history will line up in formation Downtown in the biggest painting yet by Kerry James Marshall. 

The renowned Bronzeville artist will start work Thursday on the 132-by-100-foot mural depicting 20 Chicago women outside the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St. 

The mural is the latest addition to the city's Year of Public Art, a campaign to add art throughout all of Chicago's neighborhoods. 

The mural will be painted on the Cultural Center's Garland Court wall between Washington and Randolph streets. It is expected to be done by late October. 

Marshall, an award-winning artist whose work has been exhibited worldwide, said he aims to brighten up the narrow, alley-like street by adding a "parklike view" with a bright sun and trees. 

"My idea was to make 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," Marshall said in a statement.

The project is funded by Murals of Acceptance, a nonprofit that works to "bring art to all people in public places."

Here's the full list of notable women the mural will depict:

•Suzanne Ghez, director and chief curator of the Renaissance Society for nearly 40 years

•Barbara Gaines, founder and artistic director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theater

•Jacqueline Russell, founder and artistic director of the Chicago Children’s Theatre

•Ruth Page, dancer, choreographer and founder for the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

•Lois Weisberg, longest-serving commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs

•Maggie Daley, longest-serving first Lady of the City of Chicago

•Jackie Taylor, founder and CEO of Black Ensemble Theater

•Monica Haslip, founder and executive director of Little Black Pearl

•Abena Joan Brown, founder of ETA Creative Arts Foundation

•Margaret Burroughs, founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History

•Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry Magazine

•Cheryl Lynn Bruce, co-founder of Goodman Theatre/Dearborn Homes Youth Drama Workshop

•Sandra Delgado, founding ensemble member of Collaboraction

•Jane Saks, founding president, artistic director of Project & founding director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute

•Barbara Jones-Hogu, founding member of AfriCobra

•Gwendolyn Brooks, literary icon, Pulitzer winner and poet laureate of Illinois

•Sandra Cisneros, literary icon

•Achy Obejas, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

•Oprah Winfrey

•Joan Gray, dancer and longtime president of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago