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?
Still Deferred; Still Dreaming co-sponsored by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boys and Girls Club at Washington and Sacramento. The piece is 27 feet high and 90 feet long. A spray paint and acrylic mural, it is composed of graffiti style letters saying "Martin Luther King...have a dream," portraits of King and Gandhi, tiny figures of civil rights marchers designed by neighborhood children and quotes by Africans and African Americans discussing dreams and life. Along with Dzine and Gude the piece was made with assistant, Brian C. Morris, Solo, and 5 teen artist assistants.
Dzine: "Yo, Olivia, we've got to do this final report for Chicago Public Art Group."
OMG: "Yes, we do, Dzine. 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.
OMG: Let's see, the first piece we did was theat the Martin Luther King Boys and Girls Club at Washington and Sacramento. It's 27 feet high and wraps around a corner; that's what's so exciting visually exciting about it.
Dzine: Being a graffiti writer, the interesting thing for me about the piece is that no graffiti writers do pieces that high or flush against the brick like that. We usually go and ice a piece 6 or so feet high and just go across.
OMG: Right, the way the painting starts right at the naked brick. It was tricky the way we did that--doing the outline first and filling in the primer and then going back to do the piece. It was meticulous work. I like the effect of the paint emerging out of the raw brick.
Dzine: I think what really made me happy, being a third generation graffiti writer--here were these old school graffiti writers coming up to me and telling me how fresh the piece looked. To me it was really important because in doing this project I didn't want to loose my flavor, my sense of being a street artist. I don't want young graffiti writers coming up to me and saying, "What is this man? You're totally selling out."
OMG: So you were afraid you'd be tainted working with a muralist?
Dzine: I wouldn't say tainted, but there is that possibility. I worked with a muralist last year, but this year is a lot more in depth. We were in the studio a lot; we really got to know each other first off before we even started working together. I thought our philosophies were going to clash. I didn't want any ego bashing going on. I was kind of scared of stuff like that. There's just two different classes here--you're a professor and I'm a street artist. I thought the whole thing went really well.
OMG: It's interesting you mention yourself as a third generation graffiti writer--I guess the generations move faster in graffiti because I see myself as a 4th generation Chicago muralist--a movement which dates back to the Wall of Respect in Chicago. It was pleased that some of the muralists have been coming up to me and saying, "Wow, this is totally new." I was really excited by the fact that the muralists were enthusiastic about the new direction.
Dzine: I think the pieces we did this summer were the best pieces I've done.
OMG: I really liked the way we took the text work I've been doing and layered the smaller text over the bigger letters.
Dzine: It worked. Even though we did the studio work together, we couldn't know for sure. It's one thing to do it on paper, but once it goes onto a wall, it's a whole different story. A lot of these knuckleheads who only work on paper don't understand that.
Being a writer, I'm used to being spontaneous so when I added the thorns to the "I have a dream" section and you really liked it that made me feel better because I knew that if something spontaneous came out it could work in the plan.
OMG: Yes, the thorns were great because the hands in the piece--the one with the Egyptian eye--a kind of African based spiritual presence and the other has a wound, a Christian image--King as a martyr who died not just for his people, but for all of us--so the thorns woven into the letter continues the Christ illusion.
The spontaneity has been fun for me too. Most of the time when people do big outdoor collaborative murals they do full color schemes. And I hate to do that myself. Working alone, I never do a color scheme--I make it up as I go along, but if I tried to do that in a collaboration with another muralist they'd probably want a color scheme.
Dzine: People were really freaking out on the illusion of the bricks. I think the portrait of Martin Luther king makes the whole piece. Another thing was the bricks--how meticulously they were painted. The letters busting out of the bricks
OMG:...the tromphe l'oeil...
There's a nice balance of spontaneity and planning in the mural.
Dzine: I'd like to give a big shout out to Henry, Solo, Iesha, and Brian Morris, our assistant. They actuallly painted those bricks.
OMG: One thing I really liked was when I painted the King portrait. You'd already been spraying and people were saying, "Wow, check it out--can control!" In the beginning I was doing a lot of supervising, underpainting, pulling things together. So when I had a couple of days to paint the King portrait, I could come down and hear people say "Check it out..." It was nice to have us both be admired for these different skills we were bringing to public art.
I liked the layered meanings of the piece, too.
Dzine: Sometimes I felt bad because these kids would come up to the wall and read all these quotes about dreams and holding onto your dreams and you can accomplish anything you want and when they finish reading they look around and they're still caught in the west side of Chicago...crack houses seven doors down, mansions on boulevards that are now just ruined...
OMG: Look at the kids who were working for us, kids who've been able to come out of some fairly tough situations and to make some of their dream come true...artistic kids working for us, getting the skills to do big pieces on their own.
The thing that tripped me out was the ancient Egyptian quote. "Thousands of men have been destroyed for the pleasure of a short moment, which passes like a dream and then brings death to those who have indulged in it." I liked the way we put that on the corner of the piece, the street corner...the street corner has become such a symbol of pathology...the drugs on the corner, drive by shootings on the corner. Here is an Egyptian from 2300 B.C. reflecting on life on the corner.
Dzine: Visually, I think it's one of the best pieces. I felt good that though our schedule was to have a certain amount of weeks to do it, we took more time, pushed it another week so that we could do it right. We made the commitment to do it right.
OMG: After we did that first piece, I was worried. First we designed it and it looked good. Then after we actually finished it, layering all that lettering and design onto the piece, I thought, "What a drag--the next pieces we're going to do won't be as good--how will we top this? We don't want to just do a repeat."