Don’t Fret has a graduation gift for the class of 2016: A reminder of the crushing debt that will likely follow many of them for decades. Don’t Fret’s latest mural echoes this recent headline from The Onion, envisioning college students as investment products, with the high cost of education driving them into debt, effectively garnishing their wages and making saving made next-to impossible.
Don’t Fret’s piece is part of a new series of murals organized by the Wabash Arts Corridor, an initiative of Chicago’s Columbia College. Most of the other murals in the project, while big and well-painted, are purely decorative. This is the only explicitly political piece, and perhaps the only piece where the artist took location into account. Don’t Fret’s mural is on the Roosevelt Hotel building, which is now student housing.
I’ve got to get credit to the Wabash Arts Corridor and Columbia College for commissioning this mural. It would have been easy to say, “We don’t want that conversation taking place on our buildings,” but you can be damn sure its taking place inside the building. Don’t Fret is an alumni of Columbia College and I’ve only ever heard him say positive things about the school, but the cost of higher education is a systemic issue across almost all American colleges and universities. This mural is a gentle, but important, reminder of that fact.
Photos by Chris Geick