Mercy Home for Boys and Girls is proudly represented in a new public art installation in Chicago’s Greektown district. A group of ten artists decorated small replicas of traditional Greek fishing boats called dinghies that now line Halstead Street.
Mercy Home’s contribution, painted by artist and co-worker Barrett Keithley, is located on the northwest corner of Madison and Halstead streets, next to the bus stop. Along with Mercy Home’s logo, the sculpture features brightly colored silhouettes and side profiles of characters Barrett often uses in his art work.
“I call them ‘the people.’ When they’re all together, they represent the community,” he said. “They all talk to each other. If you look closely, you’ll see their mouths are open.”
The vibrant colors symbolize the diversity of this community.
“I used all those colors to represent the different colors people come in. And I use the colors to differentiate between personalities. Some people are very cool, so I used light blues. Some people are hot, so you have your reds and oranges.”
Barrett equates the pure creation of making art to a religious experience, which he channeled while working on the project.
“In order to create, you have to come from a place of love,” Barrett said. “When kids come to Mercy Home, they often arrive a little defeated. For us, it’s essential that we establish hope, because hope is the foundation for love. If they have love, they can have anything they want, and they’re open to the possibility of growing and bettering themselves.”
The Greektown Special Service Area sponsored the public art project. The dinghies will remain up through October, and can be found between Van Buren and Madison Streets.
Thanks to co-workers Rita McGovern and Barrett Keithley for facilitating this project!