Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Thanks to a publication from the incredibly neato Chicago Conservation Center, the incredibly neato Art for the People, a comprehensive look at "the Rediscovery and Preservation of Progressive- and WPA-Era Murals in the Chicago Public Schools, 1904-1943," I was able yesterday to finally see some of the WPA murals a great-aunt of mine painted. These--there are thirteen--are at the Fort Dearborn Elementary School on South Throop, in the Washington Heights neighborhood. The panel to the left is part of a series showing a sort of wacky, dated representation of the hundred years in Chicago leading up to the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933--this one shows us Modernity! Zeppelins, planes, cars, ocean-liners and a bridge that baffles in its un-Chicago-ness, but cool nonetheless. It is one of four historical panels on the auditorium walls--the other photo below shows the panel (it's huge) in situ--the paintings on the balcony depict the Exposition herself. My great-aunt's name was Elizabeth Merrill Ford, which is fun because it's 2/3 of my name. I highly recommend this book from the CCC if you get a chance to look at it/buy it; there are tons of murals in it like this in the Chicago public schools, all amazing and colorful, thought-provoking. I can easily imagine being a bored kid in a CPS auditorium and just soaking up the colors and shapes and styles into my psyche over the years. (Thanks Sarah, Martha and Cynthia for a fun day rootling around this stuff yesterday.)

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I tried to reach you a couple of weeks ago regarding your great-aunt and a painting of hers, but I'm not sure I had your correct email...
Anyhow, if you'd like to have the painting, I will give it to you, otherwise, I will be donating it to a charity, as I am amidst a major spring cleaning.
Hope you are well,