Let There Be Light…Projections & Public Art Throughout Chicago

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Chicagoans can become one with art in some of the most unlikely places thanks to public projects using light projections.

Art on theMART is partnering with The Art Institute of Chicago, Arts of Life, and The Adler Planetarium to illuminate the river-façade of theMART (formerly Merchandise Mart) with projections of six masterpieces by Claude Monet, in collaboration with the museum’s exhibition “Monet and Chicago” (May 10-Sep. 7). Art on theMART is looking to create “an iconic public art platform that amplifies what is important to Chicagoans and the world,” according to Executive Director Cynthia Noble.

“In 1903, The Art Institute of Chicago became the first American museum to purchase a painting by Claude Monet,” says Gloria Groom, Art Institute of Chicago’s Chair of European Painting and Sculpture and David and Mary Winton Green Curator. “Today, the museum holds the largest collection of works by the artist outside of Paris.”

Art on theMART will also project “City Circle Heart” (April 1-May 12), which features original works by Arts of Life artists Marcelo Añón, Veronica Cuculich, Stefan Harhaj, Hector Jones and Maria Vanik with motion graphics and sound production by Lisa Armstrong. The projection takes inspiration from those impacted by Sensory Processing Disorder, which often affects people with learning disabilities.

On May 16, The Adler Planetarium launches its “Astrographics” projection in conjunction with the Chicago Riverwalk opening celebration and the 2020 Year of Chicago Music, spearheaded by the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Art on theMART’s projections are 30 minutes long and play twice each evening.

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Macerich’s Fashion Outlets Chicago in Rosemont currently houses the interactive installations “Shimmering Mirage (Red)” and “Descent into Light” by Pakistani artist Anila Quayyum Agha. As part of a multifaceted contemporary art program called THE COLLECTION: Where Art Meets Fashion, her site-specific sight blankets patrons in light and patterns at the grand entrance of the shopping center.

“The addition of Agha’s interactive installation will provide our shoppers with a dazzling immersive experience from the moment they walk in our grand entrance,” notes Senior Marketing Manager Katie Walsh. “This work exemplifies Macerich’s dedication to support a diverse range of artists and provide a public platform for creativity.”

The work features a suspended cube that is carved with elaborate designs and lit from within to cast floor-to-ceiling shadows. “The installation draws from calligraphy and geometric motifs that are hallmarks of Islamic art and architecture, known for its contemplative focus and for providing an understanding of the underlying order of both the cosmos and the natural world through symmetries found in nature,” explains Agha.

“Because of the installation’s placement within a busy shopping environment, it was important to me to tempt the visitors into taking a few moments to contemplate connections and find commonalities between people of diverse backgrounds and cultures,” adds Agha. “My hope is that the experience will be at once weighty and weightless, transporting the viewer to a mysterious and sublime environment.”

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Photo of Anila Quayyum Agha’s “Shimmering Mirage” by Justin Barbin, taken at EXPO CHICAGO 2019, courtesy of EXPO CHICAGO.

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Ms. Arvia is a freelance writer, former filmmaker, artist and Janet-of-all-trades who is pleased to serve as Arts & Culture Editor on our magazine since she’s always been Rebellious.