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Portraits of Chicago

Work samples from the inaugural “Arts in Chicago” Art History/Visual and Critical Studies undergraduate class

By Arts & Culture, Uncategorized

Work samples from the inaugural “Arts in Chicago” Art History/Visual and Critical Studies undergraduate class


Hog Butcher

By Emily Anne Evans
visual communications;
4th year undergrad


Chicago 2010

By Ebony Marie Coward
Film, Video, and New Media
BFA 2010

My lifelong city
The city that works,
has ground
to a halt.
With it’s overpriced augmentations —
the prettiest picture

A life lived in this city
is like a life
in a house
where you grew up with
an old man
that smacked you around a little.

To be here now
and dreaming that my work
will one day
the neediness;
I tell the other
restless natives
when they ask
of my intentions —
and their faces change —
in doubt of me? In sympathy?
And they recite the familiar refrain
that must explain
I would attempt a thing
so unwise
as Art —
“… you know somebody?”

I feel
I’m fasting
in this city where
you feast.
I watch people on TV
dining and recommending
and I write down
the recommendations
and I say
we’ve got
to try
that spot.
And months later
I find the names
of restaurants
magnetized to our refrigerator
where I go for
that we’re having — a different way —
but, again.
The museums were
my adolescent standbys
if we couldn’t see the movie
or split a pizza.
If it was too cold
for the lake —
we visited history and the stars —
science and the seas —
we took in
indecipherable pictures
in antique buildings
where no one hovered at the entrance
with an outstretched hand
because donations were really
and any amount would do
and still no entry fee
could get you
a smile
from the guards.
And the nice old lady
at the information desk
thought I
was so precious
giving my dollar
because I heard my mom when she said
they need to know that
we can give too.

And now the adolescents
living where I grew up
live in a city
of inaccessible
And my own adolescent
who has a right
to more
than I can give
would have had
to settle
for learning in the nearby
lacking school
were it not for
an apologetic
saying sorry
by saying
we lived
in his house.
Parents are
when they know people
socially conscious enough
to lie
for the good
of a child;
allowing us
to share
the lease
or have our
cell phone bill
sent there
so our kids
can go
to the good school too.

I’ve spoken to
company reps
on the phone —
they ask
“Where are you from?”
and I tell them.
And they tell me
“I knew it … you can tell by the accent”
Do I bleat my short a’s?
Turn my t-h’s into d’s?
I know that in familiar company
I forget the King’s —
and I go
is really just a faster
Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana.
And when I’m angry —
which I am more often now —
my second language rages from my mouth
“all ya’ll mutha fuckas betta leave my ass da’ fuck alone”
because I’m still here —
because I’ve always been here
and I still
don’t know

Northbound Red Line

By Colin Grimm
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
BFA 2010

There was four of us. All strangers. All united in our quest to avoid the half-drinkin 40 oz. tumbling across the train car floor. There was eye contact, but no dialogue. It was Old English without a cap. It was like spin the bottle from hell. One sudden jerk of the train and the hobo-germ infused, stale flat liquid would come roaring out.
The man next to me stepped on the train from the Wilson platform. He wore paint splattered tan steel toes. He pretended not to be fazed by the possibility of falling victim to the back alley backwash, but I saw the concerned glance from the corner of his eye.
The women across from us had already been seated when I stepped on the train at Jackson. I immediately wondered how long she had been engaged in this painstaking activity. She wore black K-Swisses, which looked as though they had been through similar battles. And lost.
Next to her sat the young lady who I knew would never last in this twisted form of Old English Roulette. She got on at Belmont or Fullerton, I can’t remember which one. She wore gray suede boots that stopped just before her knees. If they weren’t new, she kept em looking that way. It’s not that I was rooting against her, it’s just that her reaction to getting soaked by the suds was the one I was most eager to see.

I was wearing Jordans. But they were bootleg XI’s that I got offline from China. I was concerned but didn’t allow my body language to show an ounce of it.
The bottle was rotating in full circles like a protractor. Small amounts of infectious liquid splashing out with every jolting stop of the outbound Red Line train. I expected at any moment one of us would break the seal and spring up from our seats to sprint to safety on the other side of the overcrowded, infrequent train.
We passed the Jarvis stop where an extremely obese man wearing flip-flops stepped on board. He looked at our section of the train, and with a crooked eye chose to stand uncomfortably instead of resting his legs in the only remaining seat.
It was at that point that it dawned on me … all four of us might make it! We passed the MENTAL 312 burner just south of Howard, where the talented young writer forgot the T in his name. It happens. The fill was clean. I smirked. Not because of the writer’s drunken mistake, but because we made it! Steel toes, K-Swiss, Belmont and myself had endured the rigorous journey to Howard teetering on the brink of destruction. Together, we played the twisted game of Old English Roulette and we won!

A Memoir of Unknowing

By Hannah Rodriguez
1st year undergrad

I didn’t know from ages four to nine that my summer day trips to the “big city” — or as my mother always said “The place where her girls could see a working city work” — would be the same place I left to — my mother’s “baby girl” — to work in the working city that worked. I didn’t know for the three hours spent in the car, back and forth from my Grandpa Cook’s house to Cook County, that some day that trip’s time would be cut in half but frequented twice as often in order to fly my life between two worlds. I didn’t know I’d trade my tender Tennessee sunrises for hard high rises that ride skies and winds like my back porch back home’s chimes would cry apocalypse if mated with. I didn’t know when walking up and down Michigan with my commissioned hand grabbing at store door handles like last chances, afraid to miss a thing, that someday I’d walk the same strip like it was a shortcut to nowhere.
I didn’t know in that biggest, bestest store of all when I got the American girl doll to look like me, the one that probably broke my mother’s checkbook like water, that I would someday fast for weeks at a time, just so I could save up dimes, hoping to make up for maybe a quarter of the cost of that baby doll that I never had sense enough to play with, and would wear words like “fuck American consumerism,” like my doll wore that cardboard crown I bought her. I didn’t know that what I’d found then would be lost now. And I didn’t know that I’d find that I felt lost, more often than found, in the town where one can never hide but yet is never seen. And that the city scenery would morph into foregrounds — like bleed prints to page edges — so that I would always be walking with the framing behind my neck, and at my heels to feel what I should be facing, but never to heed to the pacing. To walk in the picture, without ever getting it — and being framed, for the crime of appreciation, which I have yet to commit.
I didn’t know in May of my third grade year when my father was framed for a crime he did not commit, but was still perceived guilty by the government and thus deemed unfit — though not yet under arrest. Did not know that when they tried to take us away, because my mother was away, and the state was to hold us custody that the place my mother was — instead of placing her arms around me ­— was Cabrini Green, doing service projects for the people who needed her more than I did. That this place would be the same place I fled to. Except that Cabrini Green would no longer exist, and maybe it’s because my mother cut her trip short, maybe it did need her more. Or maybe. I needed this place more than this place needed Cabrini. Or maybe. It’s survival of the fittest and I came to this city, like I needed it more than my own mother. So, I must have been stronger than Cabrini, which needed her enough to keep her from me. Although.
I didn’t hear Cabrini crying when I was hiding out in a basement for a week, hoping DCS didn’t have no tracking device on my tears. I didn’t see Cabrini’s father get carted off to jail the same year we stopped going to the city because planes flew into buildings then, and there is where the buildings were, and my mother thought it best that we would just stay put. I didn’t see Cabrini try to run as fast as the neighborhood kids rode bikes cause Daddy moved away, and then was locked away, and never got bike or taught Cabrini how to ride. Naw…
I didn’t see, hear, or feel Cabrini. And I don’t really see, hear, or feel Cabrini now. But I’m pretty sure Cabrini felt me. Felt what I was going through before I even existed. Or. Felt what I was going through before it didn’t exist and I did. And.
I didn’t know shit. Until. I did.



By Coraline de Chiara
Acrylic on Canvas


By Coraline de Chiara
Painting and Drawing Exchange Student,
beaux-arts de paris

coffee in the hand, cellphone stuck to ears,
oblivious passersby
walking, marching
to yet another meeting

Tattered pants, stained jacket
constant witness
standing defeated

busy, blend, regulated
walkers, crawlers,
worker bees
in the windy hive

like the filthy trash
no movement
no change
no progress


City Dreaming

By YunSun Park
2nd Year Undergrad

dazzling lights at night,
colorful flowers filling the city,
amazing! fascinating!
passion fueled with the dreaming of the city.
the mega-city took a young solo tourist’s breath away.

square windows,
grid-like streets,
everything has to be right angled
just like a shape of money.

highly decorated Magnificent Mile,
seasonal renovations for every corner of streets,atarun_f0510-chicagomemoirweb
every matter has to be perfect
just like men’s customized black blazer.

where can I find some tolerance?

wheels on the cars go round and round —
the only roundness in this OCD city.

the city once was the young tourist’s dream place
should only be remained as a sweet dream.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

By Abigail Tarun
2nd Year Undergrad
Pencil on Paper

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