While a wonderful array of public art can be seen throughout the City of Chicago, soon visitors arriving and departing from O’Hare International Airport will be treated to a new wide collection of public art by more than 20 Chicago artists.
Thanks to a $3.5 million public art commission led by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), a variety of different installations are gradually being unveiled in O’Hare’s Terminal 5 giving the airport’s sole international terminal a colorful new identity.
Featuring art installations by Chicago artists Luftwerk, Bob Faust, Edra Soto, and more, the $3.5 million commission is the City of Chicago’s largest single acquisition by local artists.
According to DCASE Director of Public Art, Jimmy Castillo, the new airport public art commission is one of more than 60 new art projects and collaborations currently taking place in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.
“Public art tells the story of our city—its beauty, its resilience, the soul of Chicago,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “We’re proud to share Chicago’s story and the power of the arts with visitors from across the globe—at O’Hare and in diverse communities across this great city. This is the kind of innovative and unique opportunity that can help continue to bolster and support our public art scene in Chicago and beyond.”
The official release also revealed that “a dedication event with the artists and City of Chicago officials will take place in the coming months.”
Take a peek at some of the art installations that have already been unveiled at the airport:
“…a murmuration is a data visualization that maps over 200 years of immigration to the Illinois region. This artwork illustrates how the region’s demographics have changed over the years by showing what countries and continents people have immigrated from, and how the rate of immigration from those areas has shifted over time. Each section of the artwork corresponds to roughly a decade of time between 1850-2040.”
“In the spirit of the Alberti window, Chicago artist and photographer Assaf Evron treats the corridor vitrines as a Window for Lake Michigan, the backdrop for the City of Chicago, draped on either side, allowing space for viewers and passengers to embrace the expansive, natural beauty of our celebrated Great Lake.”
“The bright blue night sky of Chicago is the setting for this piece that forms constellation-like shapes of migrating birds, reminding us of the expanse that lies far beyond our skyline.
For the vitrine at O’Hare, the surface of the glass itself is an integral part of the work, etched with the impressions of individual birds, allowing viewers to see and feel the beauty of our connection to the natural world.”
”Inspired by the needs of arriving passengers, moving from airplane to customs — tired, stressed, achy, smelly and nervous. To be calm, awake and aware will help them make it through immigration, customs and baggage claim.
A stop-motion animated video of hand-made sculptures and paintings reflect the path of the passenger, as they walk through the corridors and overcome obstacles to get through immigration to their final destination. This piece is the passengers’ guide — and companion — through the process.”
“A collection of approximately 150 signs, symbols, and objects reflecting on artistic and cultural forms with worldwide origins. The Buffalo Chart at O’Hare borrows forms, shapes, and words from Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Suggesting the complexities of our global community, and calling attention to the similarities and differences among diverse groups and locations, the piece calls to mind historical events and human accomplishments.”
”A kaleidoscope of images and color, Connection Lookup features photos and photorealistic patterns constructed and staged in a newsstand layout. Portraits of the artists’ friends and family, neighborhood landmarks, and culturally-coded objects, wrap around the entire vitrine, framing two large-scale familial photographs.
Meticulously hand-camouflaged soda cans, artificial plants, and Maneki-Neko (Welcome Cats) are displayed in a shadow box of a shared space. A photographic “block party” serves as a warm Chicago welcome to arriving passengers. A playful explosion of color, Connection Lookup invites you on a journey of discovery, offering a vision of diversity and persistent longing for human connection.”
”Chicago (Zhegagoynak) is an Indigenous place. The title of this work arises from a combination of the Kanzaá (akikipa washpezhi) and Potawatomi (Zhegagoynak) languages. Truthful representations of the people endemic to the area have been erased and replaced with images of generalized, plains-based misconceptions of Native Americans.
From a hand-drawn image on ledger paper that survived the Great Chicago Fire, combined with historical maps from a time when the Fox and other local tribes lived freely in this area, the piece represents resilience and reverence for the contributions of indigenous peoples of Chicago.”
”Pilgrimage to the Isle of Pink is a surrealist mixed media installation that mimics the artist’s excessive sensorial installations and invites you into a world of pink. Created with the artist’s distinctive “painterly” process and technique analogous to icing a cake, acrylic-filled piping bags are used to decorate 3D fabricated relief wood elements, custom wallpaper, and shoes that reflect Latinx 90s childhood nostalgia and Rococo ornamental style.
Reflecting on her childhood of traveling through Terminal 5 to visit her parents’ homeland of Mexico, the artist invites you to feel a mixture of relief and excitement, and ultimately welcomes you into her world of pink.”
“Shinsekai Yori means from the new world in Japanese. Elements of Kimono flowers, clouds, and wind converge in the pastel-colored, cyclone-like backdrop. A pulsating sense of movement that combines native flowers, representing both Chicago and Japan.
Like individual cells of the human body and with reverence to the artist’s Japanese heritage, the flowers take shape amid formless, floating clouds, which both protect and release the image.”
A final commission titled Immigrant Owned by Jonathan Michael Castillo will be unveiled in the Baggage Claim of Terminal 5 in 2024 wrapping up the $3.5 million project.
The piece will feature a series of colorful, high-impact portraits in backlit light boxes of immigrant-owned business owners and employees across Chicago’s diverse and culturally-connected neighborhoods.Read more information about the O’Hare International Airport Terminal 5 Public Art Project.
[Featured image courtesy of DCASE]