When in 2015 a developer whitewashed Bill Walker’s “All of Mankind” mural, in an effort to sell the Chicago church whose front it had graced with the African-American artist's multicultural vision since 1972, it marked one in a long series of such loses. Memorials feel appropriate, and Haerim Lee has made an entire exhibition of them in Site Specific Memories at Parlour and Ramp. A series of inviting handmade books uses copies of maps and photographs to craft intimate packages where the before and after of the mural are intertwined. Tucked inside boxes, they are keepsakes that unfold with a deserved tenderness. Lee takes a different tack with a series of small textured monochromatic paintings created with sand and paint scrapings from 617 W. Evergreen Ave, the original site of the church. These panels resemble stucco, plaster, tile and brickwork, as if they were architectural relics, meaning embedded deep in their materiality. By remembering Walker’s mural both overtly and obliquely, Lee not only creates a deserved tribute but develops it along the parallel tracks of monumental public sculpture today, proving the need for both the representational and the abstract.
—Lori Waxman 2021-03-22 2:10 PM