Benu: The Rebirth of South Shore

In 1990, artists Marcus Akinlana and Jeffery Cook created this 20 x 60 ft mural on Jeffery Plaza with the assistance of Joe Matunis, Kiela Smith, and ten youth participants. The project was selected as the annual mural for the South Shore Arts Enterprise and community members participated in the planning in a consensus process through which the theme of the mural was decided. 

Covering roughly 1,920 square feet and incorporating concrete relief, the mural depicts Benu, the golden phoenix of ancient Egypt, as a metaphor for the economic and cultural revival of the South Shore community. A Moses-like figure leads the people through parted, concrete waves of water. All eyes are turned to the dynamic figure of Oya, the woman warrior orisha who symbolizes revolutionary change. Interwoven with the wings of Benu, are images of local landmarks as well as street signs prescribing self-pride, respect for others, and cultural awareness as the route to community strength and vitality.

The mural was restored by the artists in 1995 after the wall was tuckpointed.



Jeffery Plaza, 7109 S Jeffery Blvd Chicago, IL
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1990; Restored 1995