Poster Image

North Side Madonna


Item#: 2006SYR16

Purchase Details

11x17-inches, printed on heavy weight (100-pound) Hammermill cover paper. We package each print with a piece of chipboard in a clear plastic sleeve.

You also receive…

An information page with photos of the artist and poet, and hand-written comments from each.

Medium- and large-format posters are available by custom order. Contact us for details.

Poem Inspiration Location

North Side Madonna

poster information


North side Madonna
bears the child who reaches out
with his broken hand

This poem is about a statue on the corner of 2nd North and Court streets. I often drive or walk past the statue. I have a great affection for it.

One day, as I was walking by, I noticed that the right hand of the Christ child was gone, and I found something unsettling and moving about that. I first thought, “Who would break the hand off of Baby Jesus?” Then I started thinking about it in a symbolic way, too, because the statue speaks for different aspects of the North Side.

It's a landmark, a reminder of the Catholic presence on the North Side, and the sign of the disrepair that's so common today. And then I was also thinking of it in terms of mothers and children affected by violence and poverty, and the potential that exists in the children despite it all.

It took a while, but I ended up finding the statue, which is outside a church. It was all white and in the middle of two bushes. It's not what I expected. I thought it would be larger and possibly made of marble or something a little more elaborate or elegant. It was made of cheap plaster or poured cement. It was just very plain and sloppy looking. It felt lifeless.

I wanted to give it more of a sense of being, more of a lively figure, rather than just being this stark white statue. So, along with painting a small gold halo, I punched in some skin tones. And I made sure the composition was to the left, so there's room for the poem. I made five copies with different fonts, and ended up going with a one called Rosewood Fill. It seemed to animate the piece.