Children of the Wall

Colage- I need hero

In recognition of The Wall of Respect and all those who utilize art as a platform to push boundaries and challenge convention…

At the Hyde Park Art Center Summer of 2017 artists combined unique styles to address one the most relevant canvases of our time- the public canvas- the wall. The Children of the Wall project highlights the importance of everyday heroes, specifically drawing attention to the spiritual and creative contributions made by local hip-hop artists and performers. Beginning in July 2017 with a community BBQ and live graffiti painting, the project has unfolded over a period of several months covering much of the exterior walls of the Hyde Park Art Center, at total of 3668 square feet, and will a variety of mediums- spray paint, wheat paste, photography, stencil. The project has transformed the exterior of the Center, bringing creativity out to the street and calling to passersby to come inside and experience something new or create something of their own.

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Reflections from the artists:

We draw inspiration from the Wall of Respect; a collective mural created in 1967 by OBAC (Organization of Black American Culture) who were utilizing the project to promote the Black aesthetic in art, uplift the black community and fuel the liberation movement. Through careful planning, using photography, portraiture and poetry OBAC artists placed a multitude of Black Heroes on the walls of a building at 43rd and Langley. Subjects included people like Muhammad Ali, Nat Turner and Gwendolyn Brooks. These trailblazers inspired mural projects across the nation and were also the jumping off point from which we began conceptualizing the Children of the Wall project.

All the Children of the Wall lead artists come from a graffiti background and although our styles differ considerably in some respects, we do represent a certain aesthetic; essentially a certain “school” of muralists. By calling this project “Children of the Wall” we are acknowledging the key role historic projects like the Wall of Respect play in our identity but we are also highlighting the intergenerational component- we are the humble successors who bring our own language and stories to the mix.  Because illegal graffiti played a key role in our artistic development we are also “children of the wall” in the sense that painting walls fascinated us as youths. They were what we climbed on, hide behind and painted our names on in an effort for recognition, excitement and a voice. We feel a strong connection to the brick and crumbing concrete viaducts of the south side and also the people who inhabit it, family, friends, elders, neighbors.

With the help of DJ Lunchbox Law, Ang13 and groups like Kuumba Lynx and IMAN we kicked things off with a community event to essentially “bless the project.” The event included rappers, poets, live graffiti painting, food and community art projects. (Performers also included Stick and Move Youth Crew, University of Hiphop, JNX and Urbanized Music. Graffiti panels were painted live during the event by Bel2, Raven, Dwel and Stef.)

As the Wall of Respect did before us, we used a variety of disciplines to address the concept of heroes. Rather than looking outward into the larger world, we looked on either side of ourselves for the unsung heroes. We asked the community and of ourselves:

Who are the everyday heroes? What are their superpowers?

People as young as 4 yrs old responded through social media and hand-written contributions. Heroes listed included activists, artists, mothers, fathers, grandparents, daughters, sons, all children, teachers, black and brown friends, women, God, the elements, ourselves. They were accredited with powers such as boundless perseverance, resourcefulness, love, vulnerability, forgiveness, empowerment of others. What we discovered through this process is that in order to continue to move forward toward a more just and beloved community, we need to be able to not only recognize the everyday hero next to us, but also find the hero within ourselves and be ready to take on that role when needed.

Through this project we also hope to draw attention to the historical diversity of the Hyde Park community- economic as well as racial.  We hope Hyde Parkers old and new, can look past economic and cultural differences and make sincere efforts to get to know neighbors to the south, west and north. The wellbeing and health of families in Woodlawn and Englewood (for example) are tied undeniably to theirs.

We would like to thank all the elders who schooled us on the struggle and enriched our lives. Also, special thanks to the Allison Peters Quinn and everyone at the Hyde Park Art Center for trusting us with it’s walls and facilitating the many challenging aspects of this project. Thanks to our families for their patience and support in our creative endeavors. Thanks to all the artists and performers who contributed their time and contributions. Special thanks to Michelle Nordmeyer from the Hyde Park Art Center for always being available to help with logistics, drill bits and extension cords. Another special thanks to Stephanie D’Hubert for her invaluable technological assistance in the creation of the renditions and large-scale stencils.

Lead Artists:

Miguel Aguilar (

Liz Lazdins (

Lavie Raven (

Rahmaan Statik (

Contributions from:


Bittyfotos (

Maya Odim (

Eve Rivera ( & Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer (

Rod Sawyer (

Zorzorzor (

Michelle Nordmeyer

Chicago ACT Collective


Photo references provided by:

Lamont Hamilton (

Stephanie D’Hubert (

Ronnie Boykin Jr. (

Text contributions from:

Assata Shakur, Attica of Stony Island, Hyde Park Art Center students, community members, and our friends on social media.

Wall Details:

South Wall-

-Local girl sprays paint and the rap group Urbanized Music by Rahman Statik.

-Stars by Liz Lazdins.

-Graffiti letters “Child” by Lavie Raven.

East Wall, Left to Right-

-Nude figure photo by Bittyfotos & Zorzorzor

-Graffiti on wood “Hip Hop” by Lavie Raven.

-Stars by Liz Lazdins

-B & W photo of Stick and Move Youth Crew by Rod Sawyer.

-B & W full figure by Eve Rivera from Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer’s book “Muslim Cool.”

-Screen print hearts “This machine kills facism” by Michelle Nordemeyer.

-Large graffiti piece on roll-downs “The Vibes Are Back” by Miguel Aguilar.

-B & W full figures by Eve Rivera from Dr. Su’ad Abdul Khabeer’s book “Muslim Cool.”

-“Sanctuary for our People” posters created by Chicago ACT Collective.

-Graffiti on wood “Global” by Lavie Raven.

-Poem “Cypher” ( by Maya Odim.

-Color photo of Kuumba Lynx performers by Rod sawyer.

-Wheat paste B & W figure paint on paper “See the Good in Things” by Zorzorzor.

North Wall-

-Wheat paste B & W figure paint on paper “The Artist: The Bravery is constant. Their always representing their soul.” by Zorzorzor

-B & W figure of B-boy and educator Jonathan “Nlite” St Clair by Liz Lazdins

-Stars by Liz Lazdins

-Graffiti letters “In lak’ech” (Mayan Proverb by “I am another you, You are another me” by Lavie Raven

-Horizontal quote “Love is contraband in hell, ‘cause love is acid that eats away bars.” Assata Shakur from her autobiography.

-Vertical quote “I knew one creature who wouldn’t wear a sandal, To walk a solid sand so that her could be a vandal.” Wyatt “Attica” Mitchell (RIP) of rap crew Stony Island.

-Collage materials within stars provided community members in response to the question “Who is your everyday hero? What is their super power?”

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