Friday, September 20, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: The graphic designer Miriam Brewer, second from left, in front of her exhibition on Maywood’s history during an unveiling event Thursday. | Shanel Romain
A museum-quality exhibit that depicts key personalities who helped shape Maywood’s history now has a temporary home inside of the Maywood Multipurpose Building at 200 S. 5th Ave.
Community members gathered at the building on Sept. 19 for a formal unveiling ceremony for the exhibit, which was created by graphic designer Miriam Brewer.
“I grew up in Oak Park and so, initially, I didn’t know much about Maywood, but I started to hear stories about it and thought it sounds like a really interesting place,” Brewer said before Thursday’s unveiling.
Brewer began her research on the piece in 2015, when she connected with the late Lennel Grace, a tireless booster of the village who was also steeped in its rich history and culture. Grace died in 2016 — a few years before Brewer completed the exhibit, which she dedicated to Grace.
Brewer said that Grace encouraged her to knock on people’s doors and interview them in their homes. She also did research at the Maywood Public Library and the West Town Museum of Cultural History. Doug Deuchler’s Images of America book on Maywood was also helpful, she said.
Relatives of Lennel Grace graphic designer Miriam Brewer at Thursday’s unveiling. Left to right: Tywanna Grace, Ronald Grace, Diane Grace Brown, Brewer and Michael Grace. | Shanel Romain
In March of this year, the exhibit was installed inside of the foyer of the Maywood Public Library before being transported to the Multipurpose Building, where it is mounted on a wall and available for the public to see.
The work features etched images of towering figures like Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to hold a pilot’s license who flew in and out of Checkerboard Field in Maywood (now Miller Meadow Forest Preserve); and the famous Black chemist Percy Julian, who once lived in Maywood.
Former NBA player and local basketball legend Jim “Papa” Brewer, Miriam’s father-in-law, also has his likeness etched onto the exhibition.
“I’m really honored and humbled to be here today with you,” said Brewer, who attended Thursday’s unveiling. “I really do appreciate having been part of Maywood’s history.”
James Brewer, third from left, stands in front of his likeness with Miriam Brewer and members of Maywood’s Historical Preservation Commission. | Shanel Romain
Tom Kus, the chairman of the Maywood Preservation Commission, said that the commission hopes that the Multipurpose Building is only the first facility where the exhibition is displayed. He said there are plans to display it in different facilities on a rotating basis in the future.
Miriam Brewer explained that she made the exhibition out of panels for a reason.
“The idea is that in the future it can be added to,” she said. “It’s like a continuous history.”
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