Chicago – AARP Chicago this week unveiled original artwork on a CTA Pink Line train in honor of Dia de Muertos, a first-of-its kind initiative aimed at connecting with thousands of Mexican American residents living in the Chicago area in time for one of the most significant days on the calendar for the Mexican community.
The campaign, which features a design by local artist Elizabeth Reyes, will be visible to commuters both inside and outside the train and is intended to be a comforting reminder to travelers — from the Loop, to the Town of Cicero, Little Village, Pilsen and other communities — that as they honor and care for the generations who came before them, they are not alone.
“AARP is thrilled to be able to help celebrate one of the most important holidays for the Mexican American community in Chicago and highlight the talent of one of the city’s own Latina artists,” said AARP Illinois Associate State Director Alvaro Obregon.
Obregon added that in the Latino community, it is often a cultural expectation that younger generations will look after aging relatives.
“So many dedicated sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and friends selflessly take on the role of caring for their elders without hesitation or payment.”
In Chicago, 1 in 7 residents serves as a family caregiver, according to AARP research. About one in five caregivers give up their careers to provide care for loved ones, and another 20 percent scale back their work to part time. Family caregivers often accept financial sacrifice and major responsibilities to care for frail, elder or ill relatives or friends.
But too often, those caregivers who take on the toll of tending to the sick or aging are unaware of the many AARP resources available to help. Some upcoming examples:
- On Saturday, Nov. 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., AARP Chicago will host the first-ever CAMINANDO JUNTOS Caregiving Conference. The bilingual event, presented in partnership with Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, will include self-care workshops, panel discussions from family caregivers, and service presentations.
- AARP also last week announced the launch of its first full-length film “Care to Laugh” through AARP Studios. The documentary film features Jesus Trejo, a rising star in the comedy world who is pursuing his dream of becoming a successful comedian while caring for his aging parents. “Care to Laugh” will be featured at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival on Nov. 9, along with a live performance by Trejo.
The CTA Pink Line train artwork comes after months of planning by a curatorial committee that included leaders from the Pilsen and Little Village communities, members of the Pilsen Planning Committee’s Pilsen Arts & Culture Committee (PACC) as well as AARP.
AARP accepted proposals submitted to the committee from local artists and selected Reyes’ work for its genuine and traditional interpretation of Dia de Muertos. She received $5,000 from AARP for the design which will also be used on billboards positioned across dozens of CTA “L” stations throughout Chicago.
AARP also used the artwork in paid advertising scheduled to appear in local print media in the weeks leading up to Day of the Dead. The train artwork will remain on the Pink Line through Nov. 11, 2018
“As an organization dedicated to supporting caregivers in our community, it is important that we meet the people who need us where they are – whether at hospitals, in retirement homes, or even on the train,” said Bob Gallo, Illinois AARP state director. “We hope that the Dia de Muertos artwork pays respect to this significant holiday, while also honoring Chicago’s many residents who embody the generosity of caregiving.”
Riders are encouraged to share photos taken while enjoying the artwork on social media, using the hashtag #AARPDOD.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities.