This vibrant mural occupies a wall bordering the playground of Barrett Park, located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago’s Lower West Side. The mural was created by a group of After School Matters students through a Yollocalli Arts Reach class entitled “Paint it Back.” Lead artist Jesus Chucho Rodriguez taught the teens the history and tradition of mural making and graffiti art, and the students were encouraged to incorporate what they learned into the Barrett Park mural.
Entitled Libertad (the Spanish word for freedom), the painting was designed to bring color, strength, and life to the park. The kids used a combination of traditional techniques and spray painting to create a composition that not only reflects the spirit of their community but also revitalizes the playground. Teens selected the theme of inspiring leaders, activists, and artists, including Cesar Chavez, Mahatma Ghandi, Frida Kahlo, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and Emiliano Zapata. Depictions of these figures are interspersed throughout the composition, against a background of graphic patterns and budding flowers. Spray painted across the center of the mural, the word libertad serves as a reminder of our freedom. The positive message of the mural was intended to inspire residents to take notice and continue to beautify the park and their community.