Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Story Journal: Part 1

For one week I kept a story journal as a final assignment for the Storytelling class I took this summer.The idea of the story journal is to capture my thoughts on how story is present in my daily life. I found no shortage of things to write about. For the next few posts I will be sharing the journal highlights here on my blog.

Written on the Ceiling - July 23, 2011

My favorite show, Chicago Tonight, just aired a story on what is arguably Chicago’s most important mural. It used to be on the ceiling of the foyer in the Chicago Daily News building. During renovations to the building, developers placed the mural in storage. Renovations are long completed, but the mural remains hidden away. According to Chicago Tonight, the mural tells the story of how news is printed and distributed. I think murals are created for many reasons. From an aesthetic perspective, they’re a great way to brighten up a large space—they’re decoration to scale. But murals quite often serve to tell a story.

Chicago Daily News Building | Image from

Chicago is a city with lots of stories and lots of murals. I think it’s interesting that the Daily News mural is tucked away. When commissioned, the mural told a vital story—distributing the news. The people who worked in the Daily News building in the early part of the 20th century—their lives revolved around news. The mural told a story that mattered to them. The Daily News is no longer around. The Daily News building is just an office space run by a real estate developer.

If the mural were to be restored, I doubt it would resonate with the building’s tenants in quite the same way that it likely resonated with Daily News workers. Today’s tenants may have little or no connection to a newspaper entity. Beyond that, the story of how news is distributed has changed. The mural contains printing presses and an airplane flying out to bring the paper to the masses. A modern day adaptation could include a thirty-something typing “” into a web browser—or surfing Twitter for the latest news updates. This makes me wonder, at some point do all murals lose their story only to become decorations? This may or may not be the case. Nevertheless, the mural is still a work of art, and I’m sure its story still comes through after all these decades. It would be great to see it on display for the public to enjoy.

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