It’s Now is a public mural project designed by artists at Stateville with artist Aaron Hughes and painted by community members in two Chicago neighborhoods where the work was installed. 


Aaron Hughes

Charles McLaurin

Darrell Fair


North Lawndale residents and community members who helped paint and install the It’s Now mural with artist Aaron Hughes.

In the fall of 2016, artist Aaron Hughes taught a class at Stateville called “Drawing the Personal, Printing the Public.” Seven artists learned printmaking, a technique that was last taught at Stateville more than a decade earlier by Dr. Margaret Burroughs. They created image, text, and pattern-based works with the intention of collaging and expanding the work for public spaces. In the spring of 2017, a UIC class taught by William Estrada further developed the project. The work made at Stateville was enlarged into a mural design, which was then painted on sheets of plywood by Aaron Hughes, students, and community members on May 6th in North Lawndale. The next week we hosted a BBQ and celebration of the new mural. Damon Locks DJed; Marvin Tate and other performers read poetry and performed; William Estrada facilitated screen printing with his Mobile Street Art Cart; and local chef, Skyler Dees, cooked up the delicious food.

This event was made possible by a partnership between Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project and Benny Lee and members of the National Alliance for the Empowerment of the Formerly Incarcerated; all the members of Men Making a Difference; the University of Illinois Chicago Museum + Exhibition Studies program; WizeupRizeup; Frank Latin, Skyler Dees, Jason LaFountain, Aaron Hughes, William Estrada, Therese Quinn, Anthony Stepter, Joe Troutman, Chelsea Ridley, Jonathan Kelley, Ayana Chavis and Noora Al Balushi, Amruta Patel, Elena Bulgarella and Christopher Bernu.

A grant from the National Endowment for the Arts supported this project.


Former PNAP student Eric Blackmon recites his poem “Sixteen” at the It’s Now celebration.

Using imagery from prints created in the 2016 course, “Drawing the Personal, Printing the Public,” Aaron Hughes created a design for a public mural to be installed on the Washington Park field house. On a community paint day, families and friends of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people and youth from the neighborhood painted the eight sheets of plywood that made up the mural. The mural honors Dr. Margaret Burroughs, who taught at Stateville and Pontiac Prisons for more than 25 years. The project concluded with a community celebration and poetry reading to inaugurate the new mural.

The Washington Park Advisory Council was instrumental in steering the mural and seeing it through to completion. A special thanks to members of Communities and Relatives of Illinois Incarcerated Communities who came out to paint; to William Estrada for developed amazing prints with participants with his Art Cart; to Tess Landon and Stella Brown for catering and mural installation; to Tara Betts for organizing a poetry reading for the public celebration; and to the Chicago poets who performed, Ciara Miller, Eric Blackmon, Tara Betts, Marvin Tate, and M’Reld Green.

A grant from the Chicago Park District Night Out in the Parks supported this project.