Samantha McDonald’s painting-in-progress is of a Black girl, adopted by a gay male couple, growing up to join the U.S. Air Force.

If that’s not “Patriotism and Diversity,” it’s hard to imagine what is.

On Thursday, McDonald, who goes by the name SamTheJam, was putting paint to canvas, or actually, putting paint to sidewalk as part of a public art project for the upcoming Evanston 4th of July celebration.

Her painting, inspired by a real-life adoption by two friends, is at the corner of Sherman and Church downtown, and is one of seven street or sidewalk paintings going in around town for the July 4th observance, with the message of Patriotism and Diversity.

“When I heard about the theme,” McDonald says, “I immediately thought about this,” the adopted child named Anayah, now a baby, having grown up. The finished artwork will show Anayah with butterflies, an American flag, and an Air Force jet.

This is what the finished sidewalk painting will look like.

McDonald and her husband Clint both come from military families.

The Evanston 4th of July Association chose the artists, whose work will be part of the observance which this year will have the traditional parade and fireworks show (assuming no new and large COVID outbreak).

Besides celebrating America’s birthday, the 4th of July Association is also observing its 100th anniversary. While the public art locations are approved by the City, the Association is a volunteer organization that receives no government funding.

The public art should last well beyond the 4th of July, because the type of paint being used will resist the weather, at least for awhile. McDonald says she did three sidewalk paintings in Elgin last year, which are still there.

As for the artwork of Anayah as a young adult, McDonald says it’s aspirational.

“This is the world as we want it to be,” she says, of what the picture represents.

“We want to continue growing as a country.”

The painting’s title: “American Dreams.”


Update 6 p.m.: And here’s a picture of the finished art work, with Samantha and Clint McDonald behind it.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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