This week, I spoke to young, up-and-coming artist Hasani Cannon, an Oak Park resident who is studying at the University of Illinois Springfield. Cannon may not be from the West Side, but his part of his spirit and passion is in Austin, in the form of multiple murals he’s created around town, including the one that graces the walls under the viaduct near the Austin Green Line train station, at Austin Boulevard and Lake Street.

While in high school, Hasani was part of a group of apprentice artists with Off the Wall, a paid summer internship program facilitated by the Oak Park Area Arts Council. I spoke to Cannon briefly about what creating that mural, which was completed in the summer of 2016, meant to him.

On the process of creation

It was a really fruitful and enriching experience that really showed me the power of art, especially how it can serve the community in a really positive way.

When we were coming up with the design, Carolyn Elaine (Off the Wall’s lead artist) was very explicit about knowing our intentions and that our art has power and we have to be really careful about how we use it.

On experiencing the art’s impact in Austin

When we were creating the mural, we got a lot of positive reactions from people. When I go back there occasionally, I see how some people look at it and the things they say about it, that’s it’s ‘pretty cool.’

I think, for the community, the mural does what art is supposed to do. It draws attention to the community and shows the beauty within the community. For Austin, I feel like a lot of people don’t appreciate or give credence to that community and its people.

That art is all about transformation and knowing your roots and where you come from, knowing that despite your circumstances and situations, you still transform into something great, something positive. That’s what I hope the piece instills in people when they view it.

Read about the mural here.