HEAL Chicago

Heal Chicago diptych, Oil paint on canvas paper by Kendrea Rhodes

“An enemy is a person whose story we have not heard” … (author unknown but heeded)

These paintings depict a streetscape of Chicago from many points of view; bird’s-eye, street maps, canals, rivers, public transport, underground, street-view from a child, the hallway in an apartment block, alleyways, doors, windows and sidewalks. The impact of violence in the city of Chicago has inspired a unique approach to foster meaningful and non-violent relationships. The Heal Chicago movement is equipping everyday citizens with the skills to unite through sharing stories. Learning to love is learning to listen to someone else and witness another point of view.

The word ‘HEAL’ in the first painting is written naively in capitals by an adult, pleading for help. The word ‘Chicago’ in the second painting is falling off the page in hopelessness; written in chalk on the sidewalk by a child who can only see violence on the streets.

The transparent blocks of paint are deliberate. In order to share stories, transparency and trust from the story listener and story teller are essential. These are free flowing conversations unhindered by suspicion.

Colour Palette

Using the red, blue and white of the HEAL Chicago logo (and therefore the Chicago city flag) was intentional. Blue (Ultramarine) is a soothing colour, relieving tension and encouraging calm. It also represents Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Red (Madder Lake Deep) boosts energy, kick-starting a sluggish system and is linked to reproduction, growth and change. But red has a darker side; the history of violence and bloodshed. White (Titanium) promotes healing. As a pain reliever it dispels negativity; the white of the paper is the blank canvas of hope reaching across to all corners of the city. Orange (Cadmium Red Light) is an energiser, relieving exhaustion and providing strength. In order to heal Chicago, orange will be needed on the uneven pavement to peace. Green (Viridian) promotes re-growth and also provides strength. If you look closely you will see drops of green vitality injected into the city.

From Little Things, Big Things Grow

Life starts small and it’s from little things, big things grow (Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody, Australian Musicians). Listening, without the need to defend a point of view, is revitalising – everyone has a story worth hearing. From one seemingly small act, this city  has a chance to heal.

This is just one point of view; just one picture of Chicago. But it can be the story of hope coming from many voices – if we can just listen and let it grow.

To find out more about Heal Chicago click here.

©Kendrea Rhodes 2023

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