Loop mural honors 20 women who shaped Chicago arts and culture

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Kerry James Marshall's massive "Rushmore" mural celebrates 20 Chicago women who made significant contributions to the Windy City's arts and culture.The group includes several writers and performers.

Marshall's design, which runs 132 feet long and 100 feet wide along the Chicago Cultural Center's western facade, depicts a group of trees with the women's faces carved within the tree trunks. The mural utilizes bright colors throughout and a radiating sun to open up the narrow Garland Court alley to nature. At the same time, Marshall said he made sure to include signature buildings from Chicago's skyline, placing the scene in Chicago's vicinity.

"It becomes more like a park space than it becomes like a remote forest preserve," Marshall explained.

A team of artists took Marshall's designs from paper to building wall in recent months; the city unveiled the finished mural Monday at a ceremony, which several of the honored women attended.

Nora Brooks Blakely represented her mother, Gwendolyn Brooks, who was the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize, according to Pulitzer's website.

"He met her in this work because that would be the perfect face that I would like to represent her... serious with a little bit of a smile," remarked Brooks Blakely, whose mother can be seen gazing into the distance alongside Oprah Winfrey.

Marshall readily admits there are many who could have been in the mural but are not. He hopes anyone wanting to see more women honored will create additional murals, following in those trailblazers' footsteps: "If you think there's something that needs to be done, go out and do it," Marshall said from the stage.

Below is the full list of those honored, sent out by the mayor's office:

-Susanne Ghez, Director and Chief Curator for nearly 40 years, The Renaissance Society
-Barbara Gaines, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
-Jacqueline Russell, Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Children's Theatre
-Ruth Page, Dancer, Choreographer and Founder, Ruth Page Center for the Arts
-Lois Weisberg, Longest-serving Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs
-Maggie C. Daley, Longest-serving First Lady of the City of Chicago
-Jackie Taylor, Founder and CEO, Black Ensemble Theater
-Monica Haslip, Founder and Executive Director, Little Black Pearl
-Abena Joan Brown, Founder, eta Creative Arts Foundation
-Margaret Burroughs, Founder, DuSable Museum of African American History
-Harriet Monroe, Founder, Poetry Magazine
-Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Co-founder, Goodman Theatre / Dearborn Homes Youth Drama Workshop
-Sandra Delgado, Founding Ensemble Member, Collaboraction
-Jane M. Saks, President and Artistic Director, Project& and Founding Executive Director, Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media
-Barbara Jones-Hogu, Founding Member, AfriCobra
-Gwendolyn Brooks, Literary Icon
-Sandra Cisneros, Literary Icon
-Achy Obejas, Award-winning writer
-Oprah Winfrey, Cultural Icon
-Joan Gray, Dancer and Longtime President of Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago
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