Eda, Eugene, William Walker, John Weber, and Mark Rogovin. "The Artists' Statement," 1971. Private Collection of Victor Sorell, Chicago.
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This text describes the beginnings of the mural movement in Chicago in 1967, the initial leadership of black artists, and the involvement of community activists and artists among Latino, Chicano, and white populations. Also, it points out the expansion of the movement in 1970 as the result of increased funding and an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the same city. It also outlines the muralists’ mission in manifesto-like language, declaring their intentions to work with and for working-class communities—“the people”—and to represent the “liberation struggles of Black and Third-World peoples,” among others. The end of this text includes brief biographies and personal statements of the principal members of the Chicago muralist movement: Eugene Eda, William Walker, John Weber, and Mark Rogovin.
The artists’ statement has never been published. Rather, it was drafted by a group of mural painters—Eugene Eda, Mark Rogovin, William Walker, and John Weber—over the course of meetings held between September 1970 and January 1971 in Chicago. The artists distributed it to the public during February 1971 at the exhibition Murals for the People held at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The document stands as a seminal text in the context of public art in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s and related debates about the relevance of installing abstract sculpture in public spaces. The tone of the document suggests that the artists found inspiration in historical manifestos, especially Siqueiros' "A Declaration of Social, Political and Aesthetic Principles" (1922), which was signed by members of the Syndicate of Technical Workers, Painters and Sculptors in Mexico, many of whom were mural painters.