By Dominic Gwinn, Staff Reporter
On Thursday, September 29, Roosevelt University Gage Gallery opened its newest exhibit, “Gone But Not Forgotten,” a glimpse into the street-side memorials found throughout Chicago. Using original interviews of Roosevelt Journalism Professor Anne-Marie Cusac, and Wisconsin photographer Thomas Ferrella, the exhibit offers an emotional glimpse into a part of Chicagoland that often begs many questions, and yields few answers.
“For me this is obviously a troubling topic that in some ways reflects a troubled society,” Ferrella said in his opening remarks. “For me, the emotions are very deep and the run the continuum of emotions, from love to hate, despair to joy, anger and hope. And, where there is hope there is light.”
Pairing Ferrella’s photographs with Cusac’s reporting, the exhibit features quotations from the community members who knew the fallen, ranging from friends and family, to neighbors and residents. The impromptu shrines serve as fixture in communities, and the exhibit is meant to serve as an extension to the lives they are meant to honor and remember. Quotes adorn the walls of the gallery to accompany the photos, and selections from over 30 hours of recorded interviews will captivate somber attendees.
Utilizing the aid of anti-violence community groups, CeaseFire and Brothers and Sisters of Love, Cuasc and Ferrella’s work documents a large swath of Chicago, from the Far North Side of Rogers Park, to Englewood on the South Side.
“I think these memorials on the streets are very very important It’s how people memorialize them,” said Brother Jim of Brothers and Sister of Love in his denim frock. “Some of these memorials were torn down a couple days after they took the pictures. Some people think that the memorials shouldn’t be there; they’re glorify gang members. But I think that people in their grief – the murder rate in Chicago’s going back up. People need to do this.”
Renee Trimble’s neighbor, Jeremiah “Man Man” Shaw, was was murdered in front of her home in a case of mistaken identity. She reflected about the the photo of the memorial of her home, before the audience in an emotional plea for understanding. “He wasn’t a part of my family birth-wise, but you don’t always have to be blood to be family…I’ve seen a lot of tragedies on the block that I stay on, but this particular one just – I don’t even know. I just don’t know.”
Students and community members in attendance expressed heartfelt emotions after viewing the exhibit, such as 22 year-old IMC majors Mollie Bunnell and Keegan Kaczor.
“I cried,” admits Kaczor. “When you make that kind of emotional connection, it’s all you can do. I can’t imagine something so personal and tragic. It breaks my heart.”
“It’s one thing to just read about it,” said Bunnell of one iconic photo that has been featured in Time magazine. “It’s much more powerful in person, and the memorial on the street as you walk past, or just hearing people talk about their story? It’s really moving.”
In a brief interview with the Torch, Cusac commented about the exhibit, “There is a relentlessness there to kind of give the feeling of what it was like…I hope we give people some awareness. I feel like I’m only a conduit to help bring what other people say out.”
“I want them to take away that these are people that existed at these spots, and this is where they died,” says Ferrella. “I think the memorials reflect that personal nature.”