A panel holding 35 shadowboxes leans against the eastern wall of art teacher Matt Scheregan’s classroom at Jenner Fine Arts Academy in Cabrini-Green. Students, parents, and Scheregan himself created the shadowboxes in 1998 to document Cabrini’s transformation. Scheregan, a student favorite, created an alter ego, “Mr. Spider,” as a way to connect with his elementary school students.
When the shadowboxes were created, “the buildings were just coming down,” Scheregan says.”Whole families were coming by to say, ‘Goodbye Mr. Spider, we’re leaving.'”
Altogether, 125 Jenner shadowboxes became part of a citywide art exhibition. “People cried who didn’t know us, which I thought was great,” Scheregan recalls. “I thought, ‘Wow, we really said something here.’ “