Interspersed throughout this blog post are 12 images of each section of Sam Kirk’s mural. Don’t forget to keep scrolling! Each image is also embedded with detailed alternative text. 

This fall, Fun4theDisabled had the pleasure of documenting the progress and unveiling of a beautiful new mural titled We Are Proud on the brick walls of the field office for Chicago’s Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). 

The first section of the mural. It is a bookend before the images start. It is an abstract shape with a clean square shape on the bottom but a jagged and pointy shape at the top. It is mostly a bright yellow-green color, with light blue and bright pink edges bordering it. Inside of the shape are black bubble letters. The text says, “We will land on the waves of courage, and accept the complexities of you needing cure. And I will explain why I don’t need, or seek it anymore. Because we are community. We’ll hold hands, splash through our vastly different experiences, and understand that our stories are still similar. And such realities will forever remain true.” The biggest words on the sign are the phrase, “Because we are community.”

The first section of the mural with an inspirational introductory message.

The mural was created by Chicago’s own Sam Kirk, an interdisciplinary artist whose own intersectionality as a biracial, queer woman informs her approach to her work. She often explores culture and identity politics in her art and frequently celebrates communities who have historically been unrepresented or excluded, including the disability community. With 15 years of experience as a public artist and around 60 murals under her belt, Kirk was a clear choice for the commission of the mural.

Because of the structure of the building, We Are Proud was put together in a rather unconventional way; instead of painting directly on the side of the building, Kirk and her team painted the design at her studio on medium-density fiber (MDF) panels that were then installed to the walls of the MOPD. This process actually takes more preparation than that of painting directly on an exterior wall, but it also allows for more flexibility and increased longevity of the work as the panels are easier to touch up and can be moved if needed.

One section of the first stretch of the mural along the side of MOPD Walls. A girl with black skin wears glasses for the blind and holds a rose in one hand, and a butterfly sits on the pointer finger of her other hand. She is smiling and wearing a yellow shirt. A couple holds hands and walks down a blue path. They do not have obvious or visible disabilities. The woman, on the left, has light brown skin, wears a tank top, blue jeans, red shoes, and wears her hair wrapped on top of her head. The man, on the right, has dark skin, wears sunglasses, a blue button down shirt, suspenders, khaki pants, and blue shoes. A man with blue eyes and gray hair plays the guitar, and lines depicting the movement of the music flow throughout the scene. These lines of sound are yellow, orange, and burgundy.

A look at the first half of the mural’s first section, with our characters enjoying the outdoors.


Another section of the first stretch of the mural along the side of MOPD Walls. A group of young people, including a person who only has one leg using crutches and an older man, plays soccer together on green grass. THere is a line of pink on the horizon, but mostly light blue to depict the sky. The person using crutches has black skin and black hair, and wears a shirt that is white at the top, has a black horizontal stripe through the chest, and is maroon at the bottom. He wears blue shorts, light blue socks, and orange shoes. To his left is a young woman with tan skin, brown hair tied in a ponytail, a pink shirt, bright green short switch two diagonal black lines through her left leg, and blue and white sneakers. She is kicking the soccer ball. To the right of the person using crutches is another young woman. Her skin is lighter, and she wears her brown hair also in a ponytail. Her shirt is purple with blue horizontal stripes, and she has the same shorts as the girl kicking the soccer ball. Her sneakers are two shades of light and dark red. To her right is an older man with tan skin. He has white, curly hair and wears a blue t-shirt with a yellow sweater vest over it. The vest has a triangular pattern on it. He also wears red shorts, light blue socks, and black and white sneakers. They are all smiling as they play soccer.

A closer look at the second half of the mural’s first section, featuring some friends playing soccer.


When approaching the concept development process, Kirk and the MOPD held community meetings online to hear from Chicago’s disability and senior communities to hear what it means to be a person with a disability living in Chicago. In these meetings, guests discussed what they wanted to see more of when it comes to disability representations, as disabilities cover a vast scope, but representations often remain one note. Kirk considered many questions and listened to community voices for guidance: How would she depict invisible disabilities? How will the mural itself be accessible? How can the most amount of people possible engage with a two-dimensional mural?

This is the full section of the second half of the mural as described in the previous two images, including the friends dancing, the boy smiling, and the group of people on the film set. Some of the image is covered by shadows of trees next to the building.

The full second stretch of the mural, including scenes of individuals engaging in artistic expression.


The first section of the second scene from the mural. A group of friends are dancing on a dance floor. There are two platforms. One is more in front of the other, and is silver with a black circle on the floor, with a blue circle and a smaller black circle inside of it. Two people stand on this platform. One person has blue hair in two braids, wears a purple short sleeved shirt, yellow sunglasses, dark colored pants, and brown shoes. She also has brown skin. The person in the front is a little person with brown skin and short black hair. They wear a blue shirt, green cargo pants, and black shoes. This person is also taking a picture with a camera. The second platform is orange with the same circular pattern on the floor in black and orange. The person farthest left on this platform is dancing and wears an orange hat, an orange jacket with a collar and a teal shirt underneath, white shorts, and black and white shoes. This person also has a prosthetic leg and is standing on it while his other leg is raised behind him. To his right is a person with light brown skin, textured hair that is a brownish orange color, a pink shirt with a red jacket over it, blue jeans, and shoes that are blue, black, and orange with white bottoms. He has one foot on the ground and one foot raised in front of him, and is raising his right arm in the air. You can see that he is missing his right hand. In front of him is a woman with black skin, purple hair, a red shirt, dark teal pants, and green heels. She sits in a wheelchair and is reclined to do a wheelie. She is holding her left arm in the air and pointing her finger. Lines of movement have been painted to show that she is moving her hand back and forth. Behind this group of five is a chartreuse burst shape, and behind that are three large red circles with more red and black circles inside of them.

A closer look at the first scene in the mural’s second section- friends dancing and photographing one another.


This is the scene on the right half of the section of the mural with the friends dancing. On the far left, behind a blue background, is a young boy with black skin and black hair. He wears a blue-green shirt with three white horizontal stripes in the center, and blue jeans. He is smiling, and his arms are bent at the elbows with his hands facing inward, palms up. His hands are moving. He is possibly using sign language to communicate. To the right of him is a group of people working on a film shoot. The first person is an older woman turned so that we can see her right side. She has a larger body than the other people in the scene. She has black skin, short black hair with lots of gray streaks, a yellow long sleeved shirt with a white collar and white sleeves, and a long red skirt. She has several piercings in her right ear, and wears a hearing aid. She is using her right hand to say “yes” in American sign language. Next to her is a younger boy. He has black skin, a blue baseball cap, an orange t-shirt, and navy blue pants. He is smiling and listening and is holding his hands together, in front of his chest. To his right is a taller man with black skin, short black hair, a light green t-shirt, and blue jeans. He is operating a camera and using his hands to hold it while it sits on a tripod. To his right is a muslim woman with green eyes. She wears a green and blue hijab, a cream colored tunic, and teal pants. She also has an orange and red badge on the top of her tunic, and is holding a film slate in her left arm. With her right arm, she is moving her hand. She is pointing her finger and moving it back and forth, perhaps using sign language. To her right is another film camera on a tripod. Above the scene are stage lights shining down on them, presumably attached to a ceiling.

A closer look at two more scenes in the mural’s second section- a young man holding some books, and some colleagues on a film set.


We Are Proud consists of several bright, colorful, and diverse sets of panels depicting different scenes along the stretch of the building lining Ogden Avenue. It was unveiled in October 2022 at 2102 W. Ogden Avenue, is accessible to those with low vision or colorblindness, and features individuals with varying disabilities, cultural backgrounds, occupations, identities, and passions, as well as high-contrast text.

This is the entire third section of the mural, including the chalkboard scene, the person on the computer, and the child at the doctor’s office as described in the next three images.

A full look at the mural’s entire third section.


This is the leftmost side of the third scene of the mural. There is a rounded, rainbow swirling background behind the scene. The scene predominantly features a green chalkboard with a brown border. Written in the center of the chalkboard is the word PRIDE! In front of the chalkboard stands a tall man with black skin and short black hair. He wears a white or gray short sleeved polo shirt. In his left hand he holds the piece of chalk. You can see that he is missing the lower half of his right arm. He also wears blue jeans and gray and white shoes. He is smiling down at a child who is also standing in front of the chalkboard. The child is a young boy with black skin and slightly longer black hair. He wears a red t-shirt and yellow pants with red shoes. We can only see his left arm, which is holding up a piece of chalk. He is smiling up at the man.

A closer look at the first scene in the mural’s third section- a man and a child displaying their disability pride on a chalkboard.


This image is immediately to the right of the chalkboard scene. It is within a circle with dark and light blue swirls as the background. The scene centers on a person with brown skin and short brown hair that comes to a point above their right ear. They are wearing a sweater which has a pink collar. It is white along the shoulders, and below the shoulders it is pink again with dark pink polka dots and zig zags. The person is seated at a table and is working at a gray laptop. They are wearing blue headphones that go over their head. Numbers depicting binary code float above this person’s head, while lines resembling those on a computer chip flow out from the sides of the headphones and surrounding their body. The person has their eyes closed and they are smiling as if they are soothed or in their element.

A closer look at the middle scene in the mural’s third section, featuring an individual coding.


This is the final scene of the third stretch of the mural. It has a rounded shape as a frame, and the floor area of the scene is orange and red while the wall area of the scene is blue and light blue. The first person in the scene is a woman on the left. She has black skin, black, shoulder length hair styled in curls or dreadlocks, a green long sleeve shirt, and blue jeans. She is bending over to the right, with her right hand on the shoulder of her child. Her child is a young boy with black skin and short black hair. He is sitting on a counter with a yellow triangular base and a purple countertop. His legs are dangling off the right side of the counter. He wears an orange shirt and blue jeans. A doctor to his right is listening to his heartbeat with a stethoscope. The doctor is seated in a wheelchair with black wheels and a blue base. The doctor has short brown hair with an undercut, and their hair is coiffed. Their left hand is on the patient’s leg while their right hand uses the stethoscope. They are wearing a white medical coat, red pants, and dark blue sneakers.

The third scene in the mural’s third section- an inclusive and diverse doctor’s appointment.


This is another section of the mural on another side of the building. It has a flat bottom, but becomes more jagged along the sides and especially the top. It is a group of people smiling out at the viewer. It has an indigo background with different shades of dark purple and blue. The person on the far left has brown skin, shoulder length dark brown hair, and is smiling. She is crossing her arms. Her left arm is holding an iPhone, and she rests her right elbow on top of her left arm. In her right hand, she holds a small disability pride flag. She wears a dark pink tank top, yellow corduroy pants, and purple shoes. To the right of her is a woman with white skin and brown hair tied in a bun on top of her head. She is raising her right arm in the air and making a fist. She is smiling. She is wearing a purple tank top with green polka dots, and teal pants. Her shoes are gray with yellow highlights. Her left leg is mechanical. To the right of her is a woman with brown skin, gold hoop earrings, and dark brown curly hair tied back in a bun. She is wearing a purple necklace, a yellow tank top with orange stripes, purple pants, and black high heels with red bottoms. She sits in a purple motorized wheelchair. On the ground to her left is a yellow labrador retriever serving as a guide dog, with a harness and a leash. The leash is held by a woman standing behind the scooter. She has black skin, green curly hair, an orange striped crop top, blue jeans, and a black belt. She is also wearing gold hoop earrings and a silver necklace. To the right of her, and still behind the woman in the motorized chair, is a man with white skin and short blond hair. He has blue eyes and is smiling. He is wearing a t-shirt that is white at the top, has a blue stripe in the middle, and a yellow stripe below that. He is wearing teal pants. Around his shoulders is the arm of the man to the right of him. This man has black skin, black hair, a black beard, and a collared, green polo shirt. He is smiling, and with his other hand he is holding up his pointer finger. He is wearing blue jeans and white shoes. In front of him is a young girl with black skin and brown and black hair in dreadlocks, tied in ponytails. He wears a red long sleeved shirt, a long purple paisley skirt, and pink sneakers with white bottoms. She looks to be entering the scene on a scooter that has a yellow platform and handle but a purple pole.

Another section of the mural along another part of the MOPD’s walls, celebrating disability pride.


Next to the first panel of the mural is a placard describing the piece and its conception, and it includes a QR code which takes anyone who scans it to Fun4theDisabled’s documentation of Kirk’s process as the artist. You can also find the video by following the link here.


A square, white, paper placard behind a window to describe the mural. It says in black text: "WE ARE PROUD" Mixed Media on MDF Panels. "We are Proud" was created to celebrate and acknowledge residents from Chicago's disabled and senior communities through visual representations, color palettes, and tactile surfaces that encourage interaction with the mural. In developing this artwork, the artist worked with community members to gain insights and feedback which inspired the final artwork. A video of the process has been created by Fun4theDisabled and can be found at the website using the QR code below. This mural was created through a collaboration with the Chicago Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the Department of Family and Support Services for the Central West Community Center. Thank you to all of the community members who participated in our concept development workshops to help inspire the artwork. Mural designed by: Sam Kirk, Poetry written by: Lily Diego-Johnson, Artist Team: Anne Heisler, Nancy Everly, Sergio Maciel, Alison Schiffner, Jenny Q, Juan Quizhpe. At the bottom of the placard is the QR code with the Fun4theDisabled logo inside. At the bottom are logos for the City of Chicago, Chicago DCASE, the MOPD, and Sam Kirk's signature, as well as iamsamkirk.com and Sam Kirk's Copyright Notice.

The placard and QR code located at either end of the mural.

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