The event welcomed Pilsen artist Elvia Rodriguez ’93, a community organizer and outreach worker, and Dr. Victor Sorell, Chicago State University professor and dean emeritus of arts and humanities. The guest speakers provided insight into relationships between art and community, as exemplified in Pilsen, a south side Chicago neighborhood known both for its culture and art.
Professor of Art John Bakker explained this historical context for the creation of murals such as those in Pilsen. During the Mexican war for independence, 1910-17, muralists created enormous public murals that asserted the rights of the people and became a voice for community issues. When the Mexican community immigrated north to Los Angeles and Chicago, they brought their mural tradition with them. These murals speak to the communities’ hopes and aspirations and propose solutions to problems; they give a voice to the voiceless.
“This lecture made us reconsider the way we see street art and cultures where art is defined differently,” said Courtney Randle ’12 of Zion, Illinois. “The murals in Pilsen make you contemplate what you define as vandalism.”
The event was a creation of the Arts in Society committee, a group that works to develop a relationship between Trinity students and Chicago neighborhoods. Students are able to learn from a collection of different communities and appreciate their cultures, allowing students to collaborate cultural experiences with their academics at Trinity. The art, English, and sociology departments also helped sponsor the event.