Raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. Fred Bridges visits artist Anthony Hughes in the notorious housing project Cabrini Green. "Cabrini Green is my home. It's always been my home. When most people think of Cabrini Green, they think of the drugs and the crime and every other negative thing you can think of. When I think of about it, I think about all the wonderful people who have meant so much to me in my life. ...I'm an artist, and what I try to do is to share these people with the world, so that they'll see that Cabrini Green is more than just the images you see in the media, but is real people. So through my art I try to share these real people with other real people." He shows us his realistic charcoal drawings of Cabrini Green residents.
00:00Copy video clip URL Video opens with shot of Anthony Hughes walking down a sidewalk toward the camera.
00:54Copy video clip URL Hughes enters Demicco Youth Services office.
01:22Copy video clip URL Hughes walks down the sidewalk the opposite direction, then begins walking back. It looks like the first time was a test run.
02:24Copy video clip URL Hughes walks into the office again.
02:53Copy video clip URL Hughes says Cabrini Green is his home, and he doesn’t think of all the negative things everyone else does when they think of it. Hughes talks about being an artist and trying to share what the “real people” of Cabrini Green mean. He talks about them being good people, and more than the images seen on the media. He says it once more, this time facing the camera.
04:47Copy video clip URL Hughes says he has been an artist all his life. He says Cabrini Green is home to many creative people. He talks about his art being mostly black and white, and focusing on black people because “That’s who mostly lives in Cabrini Green and that’s who I am.”
06:00Copy video clip URL Hughes talks again about enjoying art as a kid, especially in black and white, because pencils and charcoal were cheap and his parents could afford them. He adds that he’s never had formal training, so he went to the library and found books that correlated with the curriculum in colleges. He says “I wanted to go to the Art Institute and see black people there.”
07:54Copy video clip URL Hughes talks about living and growing up in Cabrini Green. He says as kid he didn’t realize the danger because he was having fun and playing. But as he got older he realized there was crime and dangerous situations. “But the people, you know, everyone encouraged my talent. To the community I was an artist long before I though I was an artist myself. There’s a sense of community here that I haven’t found anywhere else.”
09:39Copy video clip URL He talks about the community again. Hughes talks about the people who have grown up there and left the community, and then come back. He mentions John Stevens and Tommy Johnson being instrumental in Hughes “believing in himself.”
10:47Copy video clip URL Hughes talks about working on a portrait of people in Cabrini Green. He says, “I hope this show will show other people that we’re people.” Hughes adds that the whole community “is going to come out and see themselves.”
12:06Copy video clip URL Hughes talks about his drawings being about everyday people in the community. He talks about portraying children as children, having fun, and adults “trying to beautify things the way they have their whole life.”
13:06Copy video clip URL Hughes talks about using acrylic, charcoal and graphite materials. He says, “People see in color so I wanted to create an image that would make people stop and take notice.”
14:02Copy video clip URL Hughes says in ten years he hopes he can have opened a cultural center in the community for artwork to be shown. It can also be somewhere for children to go, and have a “hall of fame” for all the residents who have come from the community.
15:10Copy video clip URL Images of Hughes’ drawings. Some include children, one is of a man in a wheelchair on a porch. Hughes talks about one of the things that inspired him to be an artist was a field trip to the Art Institute. He remembers asking his teacher if there were any “Negro artists,” but his teacher said there were, but none were good enough to be at the museum. He talks about going back with his own kids and one young boy who had grown up in Canada asking, “Where are the black artists?” And Hughes says “it hit me all over again” that there weren’t any.
18:19Copy video clip URL Hughes talks about the image of the man in the wheelchair being “the Mayor of Cabrini Green” because he knows “everything about everybody.”
19:28Copy video clip URL Hughes talks about the drawing called “Things Are Looking Up” which is an image of two children in the community that have expectations because “She wants to be a doctor, he wants to be a broadcaster, and nobody can tell them they can’t be that.” Hughes adds that when they reach their goal, he’ll remind them “that I knew it years and years ago.”
20:48Copy video clip URL Hughes talks about a picture called “Looking Over the Fence.” The young boy in the picture reminded Hughes of himself as a kid playing on the fence when it was first put up.
21:45Copy video clip URL Shots of Hughes showing Bridges his pencils and tools. Hughes uses a photo for a reference as he draws a picture of a man. He talks about his process of using photographs to create sketches and using very sharp pencils to get the smooth texture of skin. He talks about going over each area seven or eight times, having to keep your hand on a piece of paper to keep it smearing. He says each picture, working at ten hours a day, takes about a week and a half. That means each picture takes about 100 hours to complete.
24:40Copy video clip URL Bridges asks how much Hughes charges and Hughes says his wife comes up with the prices. She computes the amount of time spent per picture, and says that for one of the size he is working on right now, probably about $1200-$1300.
25:40Copy video clip URL Hughes says none of his work has been exhibited in the Art Institute yet, which he stresses. He says his work is “much more than a drawing,” because he paints the tones over the sketch and then goes over it again with his pencil. He talks about liking the feel of the pencil in his hand.
27:03Copy video clip URL Shot of Hughes’ painting of a man doing some work on a house. Hughes says that for a community to be strong and viable, “people who have left the community must come back and contribute to the community.” He says, “Those who inspired me, I in turn must come back and inspire others in the community.”
27:48Copy video clip URL Tape ends.