Bakker Talks About Art and Real Communities on Podcast

Jul 23, 2021

The Chicago Bridge Magazine and its podcast, which bridge the gap between the person and public figures in music and entertainment on the Chicago arts scene, recently highlighted Trinity’s Professor of Art & Design John Bakker. In the podcast, host King Hoff introduced Bakker as a “legend in and around the community of Roseland and the state of Illinois.” 

As part of the wide-ranging discussion, Hoff and Bakker discussed Bakker’s Roseland Portrait project, which was created in an effort to represent a community and its imperfect, but real support of one another. For the project, Bakker has set a goal of hand painting 400 portraits of everyday people from the Roseland community, including janitors, EMTs, school teachers, mechanics, cashiers, librarians, nurses, and others. 

For Bakker, the project is a way to tell the stories of ordinary people who make up a real community and address the unconscious white bias that creates a narrative in the news media. “There’s all kinds of good stuff that happens in communities, even communities that are struggling with violence,” Bakker said. “These people get up and go to work every day, they have lives that are interesting. They have the same joys and sorrows. This is representing African-American communities in ways that are ordinary and not extraordinary.” 

Bakker views the project as part of his beliefs as a committed Christian and a professor at Trinity. “The essence of the Christian assertion is that all of us matter because we’re made in God’s image. That’s why I do these portrait projects. The other option is that there is some kind of ranking that some people are more important and some people are less important, and I just frankly reject that.” 

Hoff thanked Bakker for is vision and work.  “It takes a selfless man, and thank you for being someone who is shining a light in the world.”   

The Roseland Portrait project is one of several initiatives that connects Trinity to the neighborhood and is part of a grant from the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU). Part of the project is currently on display at Trinity’s Jennie Huizenga Memorial Library.