Excerpt from the report to Chicago Public Art Group:
SPRAY PAINT AND MURAL COLLABORATION OF
DZINE (CARLOS ROLON) AND OLIVIA GUDE, Summer 1993
Created 3 public art projects:
Still Deferred: Still Dreaming
How to Build a Brighter Future
Aren’t I a Womyn?
How to Build a Brighter Future is a 28 foot by 48 foot spray paint and acrylic mural at 1512 South Pulaski. The piece combines Ndebele design from southern Africa with wild style letters. The text on piece are quotes from area residents on what it takes to create a better future. The piece was co-sponsored by the Better Boys Foundation. The piece was designed and painted by Gude and Dzine with an assistant, 4 teen artist assistants, and 14 teen volunteers.
OMG: So first let's acknowledge that along with the local community sponsors, these pieces were supported by an Art in Public Places grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and by Chicago Public Art Group. Also, support came from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Illinois Arts Council and the Butz foundation.
Dzine: It's a tall piece....28 feet tall, actually more if you count the chimney. I had to spray the top of it from the roof.
OMG: The design is based on a combination of wild style lettering and Ndebele design from southern Africa. I've seen a lot of murals that make use of patterns from peoples' places of origin, but I haven't seen one that uses Ndebele design. I especially like using this design because in the Ndebele tribe it is the women who design and paint the murals. The piece breaks from the earth tones of traditional Ndebele design into brighter colors. The words "HOW TO BUILD A BRIGHTER FUTURE" shoot through it at an angle. That's unusual, isn't it? You don't usually see graffiti letters at a diagonal like that.
Dzine: I was just about to say that. Everytime I talk about that piece that's what I talk about. Here's these lettes that start 6 feet up and then go 25 feet in the air wild style.
Shout out to the whole staff they were incredibily supportive.
OMG: Definitely supportive, a warm and pleasant place to work. Remember they gave us a turkey dinner that one day?
Dzine: Yes, a little plain, but good.
OMG: Now don't disrespect the cooking.
The design on this piece was tight. Dzine, you were such a lunatic. I thought the pattern could break into blocks done in isometric perspective, but you said, "No, no. Let's do them in real perspective." We spent a whole day drawing this complicated pile of blocks out in perspective with a 6 foot ruler. Just the drawing, not the mural, took a 6 foot ruler.
Written on the blocks are quotes from people in the neighborhood talking about how to build a brighter future. Such sayings as "Listen to the ancestors." "Respect your elders." "Fight racism." "Know your culture." "If you say 'can't,' you won't."
Dzine: I thought it was cool. How did we get to doing footprints on the wall?
OMG: Well, I think you were going to put handprints into the letters as you do in your style, but then we thought, "People are walking to a brighter future." I think I said something like, "I challenge you. Do something fresh. Anybody can put paint on their hands, do something with your feet."
Dzine: So I actually dipped my feet into the paint and went from the "brighter" all the way up to the top of the "r," walking along the whole piece.
OMG: And in cobalt blue paint, too! What an art historical reference, Dzine. Yves Klein blue!
Yeah, there were also a lot of compliments on how we incorporated the chimney, turning it into an arrow shooting down into the ground and then actually painting on the ground. The pink arrow begins in the sky and shoots into this explosion on the ground and then shoots back up and turns into this rippling, soulful kind of ribbon.
Yes, a nice movement in the piece. This mural was new for me because it had so much flat color in it. I usually do shading on everything and the only really shaded part of this whole piece is the ribbon that undulates through it. That was different for me, but I loved doing that bright, smooth color...though getting all those lines perfectly straight was a trip. Thank goodness for tape and spray cans.
Dzine: Just don't tell my graffiti buddies about the tape!
OMG: Really? Well, you couldn't cut back and do the angles with colored spray paint because the black lines were outlining acrylic paint colors so we had to use tape with the black spray paint.
It was interesting to me learning more about spray can technique this summer. I wish I could have done more spraying myself, but it seemed I was always busy with what I was good at. I felt like I learned a lot watching it evolve and now when I look at spray pieces I see them differently; I know how to judge the quality.
Dzine: To me one of the hardest things was doing the coordination of the kids--the assistants, the scaffolding...just jumping into being a lead artist without being an assistant first, without teaching experience...not having the background of senior Chicago Public Art Group artists.
OMG: Well, it's true you skipped the apprenticeship program. On the other hand, you must have done your first piece when you were thirteen so you've got ten years experience in public art.
Dzine: But you know what I mean, I'm sure when you were teaching when you were young...
OMG: Oh, yeah, when I was your age, a young teacher. The students were only about two years younger than me. I'd say something like, "All right, guys, let's get organized for this." and I was always worried that the kids would just turn around and say "Who are you talking to? You're just a kid yourself." So I can see where that was hard. And then the hard thing for me sometimes was that I felt I had to carry the role of the organizer because everyone just assumed because I've done so many murals that I'd always know what's what. Sometimes I get tired of that and just want to be the artist.
Dzine: Let's see, what's our last project? Aren’t I a Womyn?
See the chapter Aren’t I a Womyn? for the story of the final Gude/Dzine project in the summer of 1993.