Local artists turning destruction after protests into something beautiful

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CHICAGO — In the wake of George Floyd’s death, protestors and looters took to the streets. It was a fierce reaction to great sadness over inequality and the value of human life. In many cities across the country, emotional demands resulted in massive destruction. Chicago was no exception.

After the protests, there were shattered glass, empty store fronts, overturned trash cans, and so many of the commercial businesses gutted —passersby left hopeless and searching for answers.

That’s when artists like Ennis Martin got busy. When the rest of us could only see broken glass Martin saw a blank canvas.

“This a nod back to the old Wicker Park when Wicker Park was full of art, culture and community. A call back to arms. Artists being called to bring that heat back up again,” he said.

Soundingboards.org is an art initiative who has matched some 20 artists with about 20 small businesses in Wicker Park, Logan Square West Town and along Division Street. They are turning our city’s bruises into something beautiful.

Sounding Boards was launched less than two weeks ago and has already raised about $25,000. Proceeds go to My Block, My Hood, My City, a charity raising big money for small businesses buckling during this rough financial time.

Martin’s goal is to send out positive messages with his masterpiece and get the hard conversations rolling. He feels it’s working.

“The whole world is nodding and crying out and responding. now I’m getting all this support, nodding from across the street, people yelling, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and it’s a warm feeling. You feel it because it’s the first the whole world noticed what’s happening,” he said.

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