Empowering Communities

New Mural tells the story of Bronzeville

August 18, 2020

Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes and Shawn Michael Warren, two Chicago artists, are helping bring the story of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood to life.

In July, the artists painted a mural on the outside of a ComEd-owned building in the Bronzeville neighborhood to shine a light on the innovative story of the community’s past, present and future. With help from students at Bronzeville’s Little Black Pearl High School, this project provided an opportunity for students to learn about the history of their neighborhood.

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The art, titled “The Renaissance Mural”, reveals the community’s resilient history and innovative future. It’s an educational reminder of the fabric of the community, the impact of global warming and Bronzeville’s initiatives to use green energy to create a brighter future.

“The installation of the mural represents a significant step in this ongoing relationship between ComEd and the neighborhood,” said Michelle Blaise, ComEd senior vice president of technical services. “This project utilizes advanced technology, art and community engagement to provide opportunities for students at Bronzeville’s Little Black Pearl, highlight decarbonization, all while celebrating Bronzeville’s rich cultural and artistic history.”

From the people and legacies to the traditions that make-up the Bronzeville community, Warren painted the section of the mural that shows the neighborhood’s history.

“Some of the figures you will see in the mural are people that are from this area in Chicago,” Shawn Michael Warren said. “You will see Gwendolyn Brooks; you will see Harold Washington who was a historic mayor here in the city of Chicago. You’ll also see the Bud Billiken Parade, a really big tradition here in the Bronzeville community.”

Statik painted the parts of the mural that speak to the future.

“A lot of the content has to do with issues that we’re dealing with right now,” Statik said.“ What I mean by that is the effects of climate change, making use of recyclable materials and basically being more frugal. There’s also a section of the mural with little girls who have on PPE and are testing the vaccine for COVID-19.”

The Renaissance Mural also reveals how art can provide new opportunities for local artists and neighborhoods. 

“This mural levels the playing field for other artists to be motivated to use a neighborhood like Bronzeville as their canvas,” Statik said.