CHICAGO (CBS) — Do you remember Cows on Parade?
This art installation featuring brightly colored, scalloped fiberglass cattle swept through Chicago in 1999. Now, 23 years later, something similar is happening in the Southport hallway — not involving cows this times, but small “L” train models.
As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported on Friday, the project is part of a creative fundraiser to help provide equity for students at a Chicago school.
The two-dimensional trains are mounted on poles outside Hawthorne Scholastic Academy at 3319 N. Clifton Ave. in Lakeview. Each is presented as a canvas for a work of art.
The goal is to help the school create equity in the Grade 8 classroom.
“We wanted to make sure finances weren’t a barrier for any of our students on our travels,” Hawthorne Principal Trish Davlantes said.
Davlantes said Hawthorne sends its 8th graders to Yellowstone National Park and Washington, DC each year. But this year, in a tough economy, the trip turns out to be more expensive – up to 30-40%, at $2,400.
“Obviously I think that was more important than what was possible in the past for some of our families,” Davlantes said.
Students from over 40 different Chicago neighborhoods come to Hawthorne. And to make sure everyone can take those out-of-state excursions, parents got creative — with a fundraiser inspired by Cows on Parade in 1999.
But this time they’re using these pole-mounted mini ‘L’ trains with designs by local artists – and designs by some students too.
Adara Trivedi, eighth grade, was one such student.
“I wanted to do the Chicago skyline and flag combined,” she said.
On the canvas of the flat train, Adara transformed the two light blue horizontal bars of the Chicago flag into a row of Chicago skyline landmarks at the top – and what looks like a reflection of the row on the water below. The buildings are all there – the Willis Tower, the John Hancock Center, the Crain Communications Building, the Aqua – even the Navy Pier Centennial Wheel and the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park.
Adara has channeled her artistic skills in hopes that her classmates will join her.
“For them to like being able to enjoy this experience — not just with me, but as a whole,” Adara said, “and it’s one thing not to go, but it’s another terrible thing when like , you’re the only one – or one of the few – who can’t go.”
Trains will travel from outside the front of Hawthorne Scholastic Academy and eventually reach the nearby Southport Corridor. They will be displayed in front of businesses on Southport Avenue – hoping to create buzz for the school and fundraising.
The trains will eventually be auctioned online.
Northwestern University professor and equity practitioner Danielle Bell calls it an example of how area schools can help close the gap in Chicago’s public schools.
“When that happens, it’s not just the students who would have lost an opportunity — not only do they win, but all students win,” Bell said.
The “L” trains will be on display on Southport Avenue in a few weeks.