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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/27/20

Alley Art Spiffs Up Evanston Neighborhood In a Big Way

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My guest today is Teresa Parod, artist, muralist and art history teacher.

Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Teresa. You have made a big splash with your alley art. I'd like to hear all about it. Can you get us started, please?

Teresa Parod: Thank you. I was inspired by a suggestion. Like many artists, I have no problem making art, but am not great with getting it out in the world. Every Halloween, I do a big yard display. My son said to me, "How many people on the block have seen your paintings? Five? Half of Evanston sees your Halloween display. You need to do public art."

Teresa's annual Halloween yard display
Teresa's annual Halloween yard display
(Image by courtesy of Teresa Parod)
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JB: Out of the mouth of babes... So, how did you bring your son's suggestion to life?

TP: My first public art piece was in New Orleans. In 2018, I went to Mardi Gras and heard that many of the beads thrown from floats were recycled by a wonderful organization called ArcGNO. They have a variety of programs for people with disabilities. Many of them are funded by recycling Mardi Gras beads. I read that they did not know what to do with the broken beads. I called them with an idea and worked with their staff to make a large (9'x 21') mosaic of broken beads.

where many Mardi Gras broken beads went - to New Orleans NGO wall mural
where many Mardi Gras broken beads went - to New Orleans NGO wall mural
(Image by courtesy of Teresa Parod)
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JB: Wow! That's amazing. How many people worked on this huge mural? How long did it take? How did you come up with the design? Tell us about the process, please.

TP: About 10 people worked on it. Some worked most of the time and some worked a few minutes. It took us five days. We had an unlimited supply of broken Mardi Gras bead strands, and trinkets. I suggested that if anyone had an idea to go for it, but if they did not have an idea, make a design using a circle. Circles tend to be positive images and everyone can do something with a circle. I came in before the staff did and left after them so I could pull the different ideas together. It is in the room where Mardi Gras beads are sorted. There are hundreds of volunteers that work in that room and the mosaic is tempting to touch and well, pick at. My husband and I returned the next year and repaired it. We plan to return again. I see it as a work in progress. We came to ArcGNO as volunteers and left as friends.

JB: Lovely! Where did you go from there with your public art?

TP: In 2017, I went to Cuba and visited Fusterlandia, a once lackluster neighborhood in Havana transformed by the elaborate mosaics and sculpture of Jose Fuster into a magical dreamscape. He started with his yard and I have been told that the neighbors did not like it at first, but changed and now love it. The project extended and continues to grow in the neighborhood. Residents have pride in the neighborhood. Art can change the life of people. It is beautiful when it happens. He has created jobs directly and indirectly by his project. I was honored to do a mosaic in Fusterlandia in 2019. In fact, I have 400 pounds of a second tile mosaic packed and had to cancel my trip to install it in March, 2020, because of the virus. I plan to go when I can.

The picture below is myself with Jose Fuster.

with Havana's mosaicist/sculptor, Jose Fuster
with Havana's mosaicist/sculptor, Jose Fuster
(Image by courtesy of Teresa Parod)
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Below is my ungrouted mosaic to be installed in Fusterlandia after the virus. It's 6 'x 12'.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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