For nearly five years, Iris Rubber has served as the backdrop for artwork by Hamilton Heights art students. Iris Rubber and the building that houses it is one of the town’s oldest in operation dating back well over a century. Despite his efforts, owner Steve Stewart said the aesthetics of the outside of the century old structure at the intersection of the town’s only stoplight, could be improved
Inspired by a passion for the arts, Stewart had an “aha” moment. “That moment has taken on a life of its own and has ultimately had a more far-reaching impact than I could have ever imagined,” he said. While Stewart did come up with the idea, he says its art teachers at Hamilton Heights who brought it to life and inspire students to keep painting.
“The idea of having student artists decorate his business has had such a positive impact on our school,” said Cheri Trachtman, HHES Art Teacher. “The students who painted the murals worked diligently and are so proud of their work. For the past two years, Steve’s generous payment for the murals has also provided for the Iris Rubber Company Art scholarship. This is a scholarship given to a high school senior planning to pursue a career in the arts. On behalf of all three art teachers at Hamilton Heights, we so greatly appreciate the time and energy Steve has put into this project. It promotes art, community, and makes people happy to get the red light, as it allows more time to appreciate the paintings!
“It is an absolute honor to have our work on display at the Iris Rubber Company,” added HHMS Art Teacher, Erin Goodman. “This building has become quite the artistic landmark in downtown Cicero. Art students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels are so proud to have work on display in such a public space. Many people talk about how much they love the paintings on this building and ask when we will do another.”
This simple idea has inspired a community and beyond.