Indian Land Dancing Mosaic | The Most Beautiful Places in Chicago with Geoffrey Baer
Indian Land Dancing Mosaic
It means that the land is alive, that we’re all a part of it. You need to listen to the Earth and hear her dancing and join in that dance.— Chris Pappan, artist
A group of local artists shares the story of one mosaic under DuSable Lake Shore Drive.
Beauty can be found in nearly every corner of Chicago, including its underpasses. On the Foster Street underpass beneath DuSable Lake Shore Drive, a multimedia mural glitters with the light reflected by passing cars. The mural is called Indian Land Dancing, and it was created by the Chicago Public Art Group in 2009. Because the group had no Native American artists, they worked with the Native American community to incorporate their input and stories on the mural, which is made up of ceramic tile, painting, sculpted cement, mirror mosaic, and photo transfer tile. The southern wall of the underpass tells the history of Native Americans in the Chicago area, and the northern wall depicts Native Americans as a contemporary people, with images of families, activists, skateboarders, iron workers, and a variety of other images. Native American artists Chris Pappan and Debra Yepa-Pappan told Geoffrey Baer that when Native Americans are not involved in the making of art that depicts them, it’s “glaringly obvious,” noting how statues, monuments, and even sports team logos depict them in a stereotypical way. “Chris and I have literally heard people say this right in front of us: that Native American people are all gone. They don’t exist anymore, and we’re standing right there,” Debra Yepa-Pappan said. The artists wanted the mural to serve as a reminder to Chicago that Native Americans are indeed still here.