WATCH: Black artists featured in live art studio at Navy Pier Children’s Museum

Dana Todd Pope
Dana Todd Pope, a local Black artist in Chicago, touches up a painting to put on display at Navy Pier Chicago Children's Museum. (Kierstin Lindkvist/MEDILL)

By Kierstin Lindkvist
Medill Reports

During Black History Month, local Black artists have been featured at the Navy Pier Chicago Children’s Museum showing off their art and giving kids a glimpse at live painting. One of these artists is Dana Todd Pope: a mother of two whose art is all about painting the types of images she wanted her kids to see growing up. She talks about the importance of representation and how this booth can help shape the lives of Black youth across Chicago.


Dana Todd Pope: One day, one of my mentors told me to think about my voice as an artist. And so I went home and I turned on
the news, and there were three stories back to back to back about little Black boys, about 12 or 14. You know, they robbed this or did that, blah, blah, blah.

And I’m like, really? Like these are the only stories you
can tell about Black youth? And so I was like, huh, OK, as an artist, I guess I can kind of combat that.

So I started painting my happy, smiling boys and girls and children more reminiscent of the life that I lived growing up on the South Side of Chicago.

I have my own two kids, Emery and Xavier Brandon. We call him B.J.

I definitely create the types of images that I wanted them to be surrounded by growing up.

Just having that opportunity to have kids who may be artists, or future artists who walk up and see a real live artist painting. That’s something I never had or never got to experience.

I just wonder what the impact of this booth will be like. You know 10, 20 years from now: impact that I don’t necessarily even realize that I’m having right now. That’s pretty cool.

Kierstin Lindkvist is a Medill graduate student in the sports media specialization. Follow her on Twitter @KLindkvistNews or Instagram @kelindkvist, and connect with her on LinkedIn.