Mar 19, 2023 - News

Chicago women who deserve public art tributes, according to readers

Mural of women

"On the Wings of Change" by Diosa. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Last Sunday, we wrote about the lack of statues devoted to women in Chicago parks and other public places, as well as efforts to bridge the gender gap.

What's happening: Readers responded with their own thoughts and great recommendations of women who should be honored in public art.

Michelle Duster told us about the seven-story "On the Wings of Change" mural by illustrator and muralist Diosa, featuring 10 Chicago-area suffragists. It was unveiled in 2021 at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive.

What she's saying: "Representation and historical truth is so important," Duster, a public historian and the great granddaughter of Ida B. Wells, tells Axios.

  • "This large-scale mural that features many suffragists who fought for our right to vote connects faces and names to the important movement and will hopefully inspire current and future generations to make their voices heard."
Bronze bust
A bronze bust of Georgiana Rose Simpson at University of Chicago. Photo: Jason Smith, courtesy of UChicago.

Ed McDevitt told us about a bronze bust of "Georgiana Rose Simpson, a scholar of German language and literature who was one of the first African American women to earn a Ph.D. in the United States."

  • The piece is in the University of Chicago's Hogwarts-like Reynolds Club, open to the public.

Jacob S. reminded us that, among the many features of Mahalia Jackson Court run by the Greater Chatham Initiative (GCI), you can find a small statue honoring the Queen of Gospel.

  • GCI representatives tell Axios they are working to create a larger statue of Jackson.
Woman holding a pennant
Mahalia Jackson holds up a pennant for her fellow Chicago singer Dinah Washington in 1970. Photo: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images

Dayna Calderon recommended creating public art honoring four stellar Chicago chanteuses. And we came up with some possible parks to host them.

  • Mavis Staples could be in Englewood's Memorial Park near Robeson High School, which she attended.
  • Chaka Khan's statue could reside in Kenwood Community Park near her alma mater Kenwood Academy.
  • Koko Taylor's memorial could be installed in Prairie District Park, not far from where she recorded her famous "Wang Dang Doodle" at Chess Records.
  • Dinah Washington's likeness could go up in Anderson Park, near where she attended Wendell Phillips High School.

Plus: "I would like to see Mae Jemison." reader Keith C. said. "She became the first Black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992. Raised in Chicago and graduated from Morgan Park High School."

  • How about right outside Adler Planetarium?

What's more: Anne S. noted that many women are depicted among the 100 allegorical figures in Larado Taft's 1920 "The Fountain of Time" sculpture on the Midway Plaisance.

  • And Kristin W. said she would "love to see a statue of a hard-working stay-at-home mom, for the woman who rocks the cradle rules the world."

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