kerry james marshall honors 20 women in arts in his largest mural to date

January 19, 2018

words by: Bere Wangge

Artist Kerry James Marshall has been creating large-scale artworks for a long time, but none of them compare to his latest mural, which was officially unveiled last December. At 132-foot-wide and 100-foot-tall, the mural is his largest creation yet. The mural also comes with an apt name: Rushmore after Mount Rushmore.

A commissioned gift to the city of Chicago, the mural can be found on the Garland Court façade of the Chicago Cultural Center. Like Mount Rushmore, Marshall’s Rushmore is made to honor important figures and features the likeness of said people; in this case, the 20 women who have shaped Chicago’s vibrant arts and culture landscape. They range from writers (Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros) to founders of arts institutions (AfriCOBRA’s Barbara Jones-Hogu) and cultural icon (Oprah Winfrey).

“My idea was to make of 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,” says Marshall in an official statement.

In contrast to its granite inspiration, the “Forest Rushmore” features drawings of trees, with faces of the women carved on their trunks.

The mural is funded by Murals of Acceptance, an organization that aims to bring art to people in free public settings.



Image c/o Patrick Pyszka of City of Chicago & Murals of Acceptance