Chicago native brings neighborhoods to life, raises awareness with vibrant art

Chicago's Very Own

CHICAGO — Artist Damon Lamar Reed has been beautifying neighborhoods with painted murals throughout his career, but some may say his latest project is the most beautiful of all. Bringing the cases of the Chicago area’s missing women to the forefront with a swipe of a paintbrush.

Reed said he believes every work of art should catch the eye, but also serve a purpose.   

“I believe that through art, which is the gift that I have, I can kind of do my part to change the world,” he said.

That’s why Reed’s latest project, titled “Still Searching” is an effort to bring attention and a face to some of Chicago’s missing person cases.

“I really want to make it look like who it is, while also being creative with it,” he said.

Reed said he got the idea last year while listening to a true crime podcast about numerous missing women and teens in and around the Chicago area.

“I stumbled on the fact that it could be possibly a serial killer in Chicago rumors of like sex trafficking,” he said.

Last May, he began with the high profile case of Kierra Coles — the pregnant postal worker who went missing in October 2018 as she was leaving her home in Chicago’s Chatham neighborhood. 

“I did the portrait of Kierra Coles and I posted it,” he said. “I also asked her mother, father, other relatives go tagged in it and they really like what I was doing.

The mural, located at 79th Street and Prairie Avenue, contains a QR code where people can learn information and comes complete with a contact number for police.

However, Reed said some of the lesser known cases he is working on lack basic information.

Reed has researched each case and hopes that somebody will call or repost on social media. But in the meantime, he said it’s  way to honor the women while they are missing.

This is not the first time Reed has helped others through art.  For more than 20 years, he has been partnering with the Chicago Public Arts Group, a non-profit organization that strives to better the community through works of art.

Last month, he joined several clients from The Pillars Community Health Center in Berwyn as they unveiled a collage of work created in an effort to promote healing.     

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Reed is responsible for more than 170  completed works of murals throughout the City of Chicago, but the Still Searching project may be his most meaningful.

“You know you can do things for yourself all day and it never fulfills you but when I can put a smile or make Kierra Coles’ mother bring tears to her eyes because the portrait is beautiful that is an even better feeling,” he said.

Damon Lamar Reed is one of Chicago’s Very Own.

Reed said the portraits of the missing women will be on display in at Overton school. He is currently working on a documentary about the missing women.  

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