Through my work on HYBRID, I met Anne-Marie Cusac and invited her to tell the stories behind my Wisconsin Roadside Memorials Project. This led her to think about the ways that people and communities grieve in her own city. She lives in South Evanston and teaches at Chicago’s Roosevelt University. Anne-Marie knew of many memorials on her streets, even blocks with multiple simultaneous memorials. She arranged a meeting for an exhibit of the Wisconsin project with Mike Ensdorf, curator of the Gage Gallery in Chicago. What came of that meeting was a shift in gears and the outcome was to pursue a similar project in Chicago with the emphasis on murder sites with a subsequent show at the Gage Gallery. For over 2 years Anne-Marie and I interviewed bystanders, gang members, memorial builders…and photographed these sites around Chicago. We were assisted with access to these neighborhoods by Brother Jim Fogarty, aka – the ‘peacemaker’, from Brothers and Sisters of Love, and volunteer members from Ceasefire. This endeavor resulted in Not Forgotten: Chicago Street Memorials.

Sidewalk memorials frequently appear at murder sites. We didn’t know this when we started, but the fall of 2015 and spring of 2016 would prove significant seasons in this gun-troubled city. In the fall of 2015, we heard of a “hot time” in some of the neighborhoods we were visiting. The homicides that year numbered 470, with 2,939 people shot, according to the Chicago Tribune, which reported, “Chicago had the most homicides of all U.S. cities in 2015, its worst year since 2012, when about 500 people were killed.”

We intend this exhibit as a snapshot record of the grief and the love present in humble and transitory objects on the sidewalks of Chicago. As another form of memorializing these victims and to not forget! We extend this project with love as our own memorial to those memorials. We feel that this preserves their value, offers a glimpse of their emotional depth and helps us not to forget.

A special thanks to Mike Ensdorf, the Gage Gallery, Roosevelt University, Ceasefire and Brother Jim Fogarty, also to all of the people that shared their stories. We are grateful.