Walls of Prophecy and Protest

Trade Paper – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-4058-5
Publication Date
August 2019
Trim Size
6 x 9

Walls of Prophecy and Protest

William Walker and the Roots of a Revolutionary Public Art Movement
Jeff W. Huebner

Chicago is home to more intact African American street murals from the 1970s and 1980s than any other U.S. city. Among Chicago’s greatest muralists is the legendary William “Bill” Walker (1927–2011), compared by art historians to Diego Rivera. Francis O’Connor, America’s foremost mural historian, called Walker the most accomplished contemporary practitioner of the classical mural tradition that runs from Giotto to Rivera.

?Though his art could not have been more public, Walker maintained a low profile during his working life and virtually withdrew from the public eye after his retirement in 1989. Author Jeff W. Huebner met Walker in 1990 and embarked on a series of insightful interviews in 2008. Those meetings form the basis of Walls of Prophecy and Protest, the story of Walker’s remarkable life and the movement that he inspired.

Featuring thirty-five color images of Walker’s work, this handsome edition reveals the artist who was the primary figure behind Chicago’s famed Wall of Respect and who created numerous murals that depicted African American historical figures; protested social injustice; and centered imagination, love, respect, and community accountability.

About the Author

JEFF W. HUEBNER is an arts journalist, freelance writer, and regular contributor to the Chicago Reader. His articles and occasional reviews have also appeared in ARTnews, Public Art Review, Sculpture, Chicago magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. He is the author of Murals: The Great Walls of Joliet and the coauthor of Urban Art Chicago: A Guide to Community Murals, Mosaics, and Sculptures and Chicago Parks Rediscovered. In July 2017, Huebner and seven other writers were the first recipients of the annual Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation award, which supports arts criticism and journalism.

“Huebner successfully addresses the conflicts Walker created and addressed when he insisted on representing the challenges of systemic racism and black poverty instead of just positive imagery . . . The author enables the reader to see that the desire to see public art as both uplifting and a call to action were Walker’s endless tug of war as an activist and an artist.” —Kimberly N. Pinder, Professor of Art History, University of New Mexico