Site Specific Memories
In the series Site Specific Memories (2021-), The Story Needs to be told (2021-), Object and Subjective painting (2018-), Whitewashed: All of Mankind (2017-), I investigate the past and the present of the Strangers Home Missionary Baptist Church in Cabrini Green. The architecture itself represents the transformation of the community from mainly Italian-American to African-American families. In 1972, Chicago based muralist William Walker painted All of Mankind on the façade of the church. Walker is known for creating the Wall of Respect (1967), which started the community mural movement in the US.
The mural All of Mankind reflects the national movement for human and civil rights during the sixties and seventies and symbolizes the unity of the human race with four intertwined figures —Jesus, Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Anne Frank. The building was sold in 2015 to a new private owner. On December 10th, 2015, the owner whitewashed the mural while a small group was trying to raise funding in order to preserve it. After the demolition of the Cabrini Green public housing, there no longer was a community interested in preserving the mural.
In this project, I juxtapose found photographs of All of Mankind with film photographs taken of the current building on the site. I employ the photograph to create a subjective experience of history. I collapse the contemporary and historical moment on the two-dimensional surface. Through the interplay of grainy black-and-white photographs with chromatic positive film, I attempt to layer time and space.
In investigating the history of the mural All of Mankind, I pose the questions—How to preserve an oral history? How to create inclusive space by examining, as well, a counter narrative? what is the socio-political implication and impact of whitewashing? Who has the authority to preserve and destroy history? What is revealed and what is concealed on the walls of the church?