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Three Awesome, Incredibly Odd Art Projects in Chicago

Chicago’s art scene is much more than just the Art Institute and the MCA. Check out these unique projects going on in the city right now.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Orihon by Tom Burtonwood

Tom Burtonwood, a local technology champion, created this new 3D printed book of art masterpieces so the visually impaired can experience, through touch, the wondrous shapes of famous sculptures. Burtonwood released this book of art-meets-Braille in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, scanning items from their collections. Included are printed reproductions of Ancient Egyptian carvings, a Mayan mask, and the metalwork of architect Louis Sullivan, among others. Each object also features an explanatory text in Braille. In the spirit of the maker movement’s shareware ethos, the code for Burtonwood’s book can be downloaded and printed for free on desktop 3D printers. 

 

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Standard Spoil by Claire Pentecost

 In 1973, when the marble stone that once adorned the Aon tower façade became disengaged and crashed through the roof of the nearby Prudential Center, engineers removed the slabs—all 43,000 of them—from what was once the city’s tallest skyscraper. They trashed them in an industrial yard in Indiana. Forty years later, artist Claire Pentecost, a professor at the School of the Art Institute, discovered the story and decided to transform the discarded marble into a sculpture. She took 40 chunks of the Italian Carrara marble—the same type that Michelangelo used to carve his David—and engraved them with the phrase “Standard Spoil.” It is a critique of the corporation’s wasted riches. Pentecost’s stones are about the size of a paperweight, and are for sale by Threewalls for $350—the price echoes the 350-pound slab that originally fell from the tower. 

 

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Jesus by the Lake by Industry of the Ordinary

Local performance group Industry of the Ordinary, notable for their art hijinks, is embarking on the groups most ambitious project to date: the artists seek to create a portrait of everyone named Jesus who lives in Chicago—all 10,000 of them. Although they’ve not yet secured total funding for the project, which they estimate will cost between $4,000 and $8,000, Industry of the Ordinary have their first Jesus on board: artist Jesus Mejia will act as liaison to additional Jesuses. In the end, the estimated 10,000 portraits will be edited into a single video. “While we are aware that statistically there are probably many undocumented individuals called Jesus in the city, we will not ask any participant about their [legal] status," says co-producer Adam Brooks. "If any respondent, for whatever reason, wishes to obscure their features or withhold their family name, we will respect their wishes.” You can contribute to the project here

 

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