By Charlie De Mar

CHICAGO (CBS) — The idea for a lighthouse art display came from The Chicago Lighthouse, an organization serving the blind and visually impaired.

CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reports after talking with people on Michigan Avenue, the lighthouses are already starting an important conversation.

Just as the Chicago Harbor lighthouse serves as a warning to boaters, 51 new colorful lighthouses along Michigan Avenue are also sending a message – a message of inclusion and access for those living with disabilities.

“The titled of the lighthouse is boundless,” said artist Pooja Pittie, “obviously I could personally relate to it because of my own disability.”

Pooja Pittie lives with muscular dystrophy. She is one of more than 100 artists selected for the installation. Nearly half of the talented artists live with disabilities.

“You just see big broad strokes of paint,” she explained. “I’m so glad that I did it. It is an incredible sense of achievement to see it out here.”

In a city that doesn’t seem to stop for much, the carefully crafted sculptures are getting people of all ages to pause, think, and hopefully start a conversation.

“Seeing positive, joyful, happy responses is even more amazing,” Pittie said.

Julie Stark of The Chicago Lighthouse agreed.

“Like any gifted individual with a talent to share, they’ve been given this opportunity to share with the public,” Stark said.

Hamza ‘Inzo’ Muhammad painted a lighthouse that sits in front of the Chicago Blackhawks Store.

“I don’t use the label as a disability. I use it as a superpower,” Inzo said. “The power of a paint brush, wiping away any misconceptions of the word disability.”

“For me, it means mission accomplished,” Pittie said, smiling.


Charlie De Mar