DOWNTOWN — A set of colorful murals created by queer, Chicago-born artist Sam Kirk is coming to the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier.
Kirk created the murals with their partner, Jenny Q, for last year’s WorldPride in New York. The large pieces depict people of varying races, ages, genders and sexual orientations in horizontal, multicolored panels.
The murals will be installed Wednesday at 401 N. Michigan Ave. Banners with the artwork will be installed at Navy Pier, and artwork will also be put up on the exterior of the Chicago Cultural Center.
WorldPride is a recurring event where a large LGBTQ+ pride parade is hosted in cities across the globe. Last year, Stonewall 50 — WorldPride was held in New York to celebrate the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. Kirk’s murals were displayed around a full city block in Times Square as part of the event.
“Having artwork that reflects the many different faces of the LGBTQ community was something that aligned well with the message for WorldPride,” Kirk said.
Kirk said they were excited for their mural to be displayed on Michigan Avenue because of the amount of visibility it affords. They want their murals — which center the LGBTQ community and racial and ethnic minorities within that community — to draw attention to an area where Kirk and many Chicagoans have not always felt welcomed.
“It’s important to me where it’s going in the city. One of the things I’ve always struggled with was feeling like I had to go to a designated space in my city to feel comfortable,” Kirk said, noting they and a former partner were harassed and spit at once while walking down the Mag Mile.
Kirk hopes their murals bring a sense of belonging and acceptance for LGBTQ people and, by putting their murals on Michigan Avenue, it can help change the famed shopping strip into a place where everyone feels safe.
“If we look at some of the events that have happened over the past few years on Michigan Avenue … think about our Black and Brown youths and how they haven’t necessarily been welcomed to Michigan Avenue. So for me to put up work like this which celebrates our marginalized LGBTQ community, that’s exciting for me,” Kirk said.
“The overall goal of my work is to try to show people what our future could be — what the future of our city should look like.”
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