ENGLEWOOD — A large mural of a black woman’s face has stopped people on their way to Dream Cafe, 748 W. 61st St.

The creator is artist Tyrue Jones, 45, who goes by the name Slang in the art world. The mural is a hybrid of his youngest daughter and his niece, he said.

“This is a younger woman, but in a sense, Mother Nature, Mother Englewood,” Jones said.

Dream Cafe’s owner, Howard Bailey, and Jones have been friends for years. Bailey said he “begged” Jones to do the mural and was happy when he finally had time to tackle it.

“I’m a big fan of our art, especially graffiti, because it’s our urban expression, and Slang is one of the few artists who can elevate it,” he said.

Ashley Roberts, 27, of Englewood said she sees the embodiment of her neighborhood in the piece.

“It’s beautiful, it is stunning, and a portrait of a black woman is very inspiring, we need more uplifting black art,” Roberts said.

Using a woman’s face was always the plan, said Jones, who said that too often he sees women being disrespected.

“I think women should be put on a pedestal,” he said.

The mural started out with a science fiction theme, but he quickly incorporated elements of nature.

A blossoming flower bud is used as the woman’s head. “It’s directly tied to Egypt and Nefertiti, [the wife of an Egyptian pharaoh], and it’s an empowering crown made of nature, of a flower,” Jones said.

He added, “I like to think of every piece of art I create as a window into another world.”

Beyond that, he wants to keep the message of the piece short: “I want people to interpret this in their own way or have a feeling for themselves, not be dictated or directed how to think about it.”

Todd McCurry, 43, of East Garfield Park said he “loves the piece,” which he called “Mother of Englewood.”

“It’s forward-thinking,” he said. “When I look at it, it inspires me to want to create, and visually it’s simply stunning.”

The mural isn’t only catching the attention of Chicago residents. Wanda Nazario, 42, who went to high school with Bailey, lives in Florida and said she saw the unfinished mural on Facebook. While visiting Chicago, she decided to make a special stop to see it.

“It brings such beauty to the neighborhood and when you see stuff like that you see hope, you see a lot of things,” said Nazario, who brought her 21-year-old god-daughter with her.

Jones, who began painting the mural on Tuesday, said Friday morning that he hopes to be done by the end of the day.

Article courtesy of DNAinfo Chicago, written by Andrea V. Watson
June 1, 2015