Our Children of Angels
Around 2:30 PM Monday December 1 1958, the schoolchildren of Our Lady Of Angels were almost ready to leave school for the day when they suddenly realized the hallways were filled with smoke. Many of the students and their teachers assumed that they were trapped and resorted to praying, some jumping from second story windows. As neighborhood parents ran to the scene with ladders too short to reach the windows, the fire department arrived in time to pull children from the engulfed second floor, but could not save 92 children and three nuns. The aftermath shattered the community with many children critically burned and emotionally damaged.
A subsequent investigation determined a student lit a fire in the basement stairwell
Eric Edward Esper
After obtaining my BFA in Illustration from Northern Michigan University in 1996 I relocated to Chicago to pursue my artistic endeavors. Here, I began exclusively oil painting and have assembled a body of paintings chronicling scenes of Chicago done primarily in plein air.
Capturing parts of the city’s landscape during its cultural evolution had been my way of conveying history as a painter. My fascination with landscapes and history has led me to create oil paintings of scenes that have affected us in dramatic ways. Recently I have begun painting aerial views of locations that have interesting historical significance, encapsulating true stories that are hard to imagine and harder to forget. My latest paintings capture these places and depict them with historically accurate attention to detail. Using various sources I recreate these scenes with as many photographs of every angle of the incident and research the stories, submersing myself in the event. My newest body of paintings depicts events with a more historically tragic significance, depicting scenes of the darkest hours in America’s Midwest history, where the landscape became the backdrop for tragedy and calamity. These events that irrevocably altered so many lives are important to remember, not only for the people lost and how it affected our culture, but also to remind us that disaster can occur at any time, anywhere.