Freedom Wall

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From Abraham Lincoln to Frank Zappa, the 70 names listed on this 72-foot-high by 15-foot, 6-inch-wide mural on the east side of the 325 W. Huron building "represent the idea of freedom in all its potential interpretations," in the words of its creator, Chicago artist Adam Brooks. Brooks is represented by the Rhona Hoffman Gallery, which has space in the same building. "All of his artworks deal with text, and this happens to be his largest public piece," said the gallery's director, Monique. The white enamel on black vinyl work may be his most interesting. During the 1992 presidential campaign, Brooks became fascinated by the different meanings of freedom and how the word was misused. He used electronic mail, opinion-gathering stations and letters of solicitation to more than 600 people nationwide, from school children to religious leaders, to gather the list. The name mentioned most often by the respondents -- Martin Luther King Jr. -- heads the list and the rest fall in line in accordance with the number of "votes" they received. The top five are King, Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela. Also of interest, and their rank, are: Lenny Bruce (20), sexual harassment accuser Anita Hill (32), Rush Limbaugh (33), Dr. Jack Kevorkian (44), artist Robert Mapplethorpe (46) and late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington (68). A blank space (51) represents the concept submitted that any one person, not even Jesus (13), Moses (17) or Buddha (62), embodies the ideal of freedom. Also notable are some of the many people nominated in numbers too small to make the final 70: "All Teachers," artist Annie Sprinkle, pop rocker Billy Corgan, Eve, Crazy Horse, Howard Stern, Jackie Robinson, Jacques Cousteau, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards (not Mick Jagger), Leona Helmsley, LA police beating victim Reginald Denny, the Statue of Liberty, young AIDS victim Ryan White, flamboyant entertainer RuPaul, Orson Welles, Superman, the Wright Brothers and Adolf Hitler.