Segregated City: Make Room For The Afflicted And The Restricted by Derric Clemmons

Segregation is not only a matter of geographical space. It sometimes means the segregation in which we corner ourselves mentally. The afflicted and restricted are sometimes people who we know well, our neighbors, our brothers, sisters, friends, and co-workers. The spectrum is wide.

A few weeks ago, while driving by the Humboldt Park community, I felt as if i was driving in a different city. Poverty is evident.  Drugs and violence dominate the streets. But at the end of every dark tunnel, there is a light of hope. I saw  families walking, going about their day, small food establishments in the middle of empty lots, people lined up to enjoy some street food. I questioned if they feared their surroundings. I questioned if they felt happy with their life. Do they feel restricted? Do they feel afflicted? Do they know they are segregated?

Later that day I stopped at a small restaurant, a homeless man went inside, stumbling to walk he fell on top of a table. A restaurant employee kindly asked him to leave. There was kindness in his tone, but firm in his request. The homeless man refused. He was escorted out. He kicked his feet as he was dragged out. The people in the restaurant were quiet, but soon resumed their chats as they went back to eating their food. I let a thought escape, "Why can't he act normal?" I regretted the comment quickly. How can there be no segregation, if we have no tolerance for people who are suffering? it makes us uncomfortable and we want it out of sight.  How do we make room for those who are suffering? 

Sketches made by our artists

Sketches made by our artists

Cocomocha studio in partnership with Las Artelitas are joining forces to create the second #drivebyart project "Segregated City: Make Room for the Afflicted and the Restricted" with contributions of several Chicago artists.  This theme is dedicated to all those who are suffering, those who are restricted, those who feel they don't deserve to be happy. We bring art to those who cannot experience it in their day to day life. We make art to inspire and bring unity. We create art to break barriers; segregation and separation. Only when we are able to face the issues in our communities can we truly begin to understand that we are all part of the same force;  that perhaps we can get closer to a better future one painting at a time. 

written by Sandra Lara

"Hope In the Darkest of Places" by Derric Clemmons

The Drive By Project, a Cocomocha Studio initiative was started as a way to beautify abandoned buildings in Chicago communities. Positive symbols created and pinned to boarded up doors and windows. We wanted these forgotten places to be a reminder not of the challenges in our communities, but that there can be beauty and color in the darkest of places. 

 Chicago neighborhoods have experienced peaks of violence in recent months. The unfortunate truth is that we attribute the violence only to one area in which its happening. The shootings are a thing of the South Side. " its been said. "As long as its not happening on our front door, we arent talking about it". But what happens when there is act of violence in our own backyard?

Some people hide behind the shades. They live in fear.  They feel hopeless. Others walk through the chaos, like its part of every day living. They think it will never change.  But there are a few brave souls who set fear aside, standing strong for the community, making bold statements of unity.  

 The #DriveByArt Project made an appearance Sunday night at a South East Side neighborhood of Chicago in response to recent violence in the area. Derric Clemmons of Cocomocha took to the streets of 81st and Houston to deliver some 'food for thought': Strong messages in the form of art, pinned to the trees of his community. I want people to know that we care, that they are heard, that they dont stand alone, said Clemmons.

 Isaac Jackson, a resident of the area, assisted the dying victim of the recent shooting. Its a shame that we have fought this issue for so long. We welcome the art pieces to the block. I want to see more.

 Clemmons planted so called community candies where people drive, walk, and live by. Focus your mind Common Sense-good for you are just some of the messages that can be seen. The response has been positive thus far. Neighbors are coming by to check out the artwork on trees. Some want them in front of their own homes.  Mary Lumbreras, a resident of the area, says she will support Cocomocha and the Drive By Project.  I will do everything to help Derric. This is our neighborhood and I will support it.

 Police officers patrolling the area have stopped by to check it out. Its not something theyve seen before. The Drive By Project is not a typical protest, but a call to positive action. The art messages are meant to involve anyone who comes across them.

 Luz Castillo of Cocomocha also contributed to the cause with “¡Alarma! style messages. ¡Alarma!  Spanish forAlarm is a Mexican news magazine that specializes in graphic pictures of violence. In Cocomocha style, Luzs messages were of peace and respect for life.

 Nakesha Walker, an art contributor for the Drive By Project said, I would want people to see that our communities engage with one another. Its important to have a strong community so that the people have a voice for change. With this alliance, we will do our best to help communities find their voice and to make communities better through visual expressions

 Cocomocha is currently working alongside other Chicago artists like Mynor Paredes, David Anthony Geary and Sandra Perez-Lara. The Drive by Project is soon to release more artwork in Chicago communities.

  Awareness is the greatest agent for change. -Eckhart Tolle.

 -by Sandra Perez-Lara

We need messages that are sweet and feed the soul.  A taste for what is good and right in communities.

Cultural symbols surround the key message we must recognize.

Cultural symbols surround the key message we must recognize.