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PILSEN NOW/PILSEN THEN by Marlys Caceres


Chicago is a city that is slowly growing to be a healthier city to live in, and that is what motivated me to create Pilsen Now/Pilsen Then. It is a piece of artwork created to purely raise awareness about the health situation specifically happening in Pilsen/Little Village in Chicago, IL, and what we can do to change the situation. I show a lung, divided in two sections, the good and the bad, the good representing the things we can do to create a healthier/better change for the city, and the bad representing what is happening now. The people who will be mostly impacted by my design are probably kids because of the colors and the simplified design. The piece is created using watercolors and ink pens, focusing your attention only on the colors and the details of the drawing, makes you wonder and navigate through the piece.

At first I wanted to show an illustrated lung and the city on the left side of the lung, more like the background of it, and on the right I wanted to show a valley demonstrating the pureness of clean air. Brainstorming though made me think that the valley had nothing to do with Chicago or a city for that matter, and it would not raise awareness of the problem. Secondly I thought of of the skyline of the city, again being see through the lung, with one city being grey and pollutes and the other city being colorful and not polluted, but that again would be impossible, a city not polluted? Not a realistic thought. Finally I thought of having a bad lung and a good lung, the bad lung representing the city now and the good lung the things we can do to improve it.

The overall painting is a lung, and inside the lung there is a divided section, right and left, good and bad. The left is Pilsen Now, the black lung; I wanted to convey a view of destruction and pollution; the outside cloud of the left lung is black, grey and violet; violet because it represents that something has been bruised, in this case the lung by all the smoke and pollution. I also have the lake with dead fish, and the beach with a bird eating garbage, as well there's bottles and garbage everywhere; the beach is a dark yellow, because it is polluted. Pilsen Now is showing a row of cars and truck polluting the air; the arteries of the lung have been replaced by the cities building also polluting the city. I have added the city's dump with the Waste Management garbage truck to demonstrate how much space we are taking up.

The right lung, Pilsen Then is a mirrored image of Pilsen Now, but only that everything is clean and clear. The clouds outside the lung have lively watered-down colors representing what it could be; the colors outside the lung on the division line are muggy and thick, representing the transformation from the Now and Then of Pilsen, and as the time passes the colors become watered-down showing the change. The fish on the lake are alive and happy, the beach is clean, the lake is passive unlike Pilsen Now; I have added the gardens at the roof of the buildings which clean the air in the city, I replaced the rows of cars with bikes, because they don't pollute and are good for us; and I have added the train or public transportation, because it is a way to control pollution; I am also showing the farmer's market, that also controls pollution by reducing the importing of vegetables and fruits, and it's also important to support our local farmers. And I have replaced the Waste Management truck with a recycling one picking up recyclables, because that is what we need to do to reduce the use of natural resources.

The painting raises awareness for the Pilsen neighborhood in a way of things that we can do to improve our own environment, things we can do and should do if we care for each other and the air we breath, simple things that all we need to do is to make them a habit (such as; bicycling, recycling, getting involved in roof gardens, public transportation, supporting our local farmer's). That is why I feel what I have on my painting is important to show to the world and mainly our city, because it shows you what we need to do in a simplified form, it shows you what it is and what it can be if we just do what we need to do with what we are provided.