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Color Jam in Chicago

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Chicago, get ready -- pretty soon while taking a stroll downtown enjoying the sunshine, you will suddenly feel like you walked into the middle of an animated film. This is the aim of the new public art installation Color Jam by Jessica Stockholder, commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance, set to paint the town this June. In excited anticipation, this renowned multimedia artist divulges exclusive details to MutualArt about the opening and explains her goals for the project.

MutualArt.com imageThe idea behind Color Jam (proposal pictured above), Jessica Stockholder tells us, is to create "an experience that elicits joy and encourages the recognition that things might be otherwise." As people approach the prominently-located corner, flashes of color will appear transforming the area from black and white to technicolor, with abstract shapes reaching the clouds on a skyscraper or stripes underfoot on the sidewalk. Intensifying upon reaching the intersection hosting the project, the four buildings will be jammed with a "volume of color," as geometric shapes spill down facades onto the pavement, consuming the traffic lanes and sidewalk.

After months of waiting for the announcement, Stockholder reveals for the first time to MutualArt exactly when and where to expect this massive undertaking: Look out for installation to begin on May 28. 2012 with the artist on the corner of State and Adams, a busy area filled with shops on Chicago's famous downtown "Loop".MutualArt.com image

Moving outside the confines of the museum walls, Jessica Stockholder faces new challenges in the middle of the busy streets of Chicago. "I haven't before had the opportunity to address a street-scape with an ephemeral work," she tells us, when we ask her how this project will be different from her past work.

For more than 25 years, Stockholder has crossed traditional boundaries of painting and sculpture with her site-specific installations, found in collections such as Art Institute of Chicago, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others. A newcomer to the public art scene, many saw her most recent whimsical installation Flooded Chambers Maid in Madison Square Park in 2009 (pictured below), where she utilized industrial materials and brightly colored ready-made objects to create what looked like a three dimensional abstract painting in the environment.

MutualArt.com imageThe most challenging aspect of creating public art, she admits," is finding material to work with that will withstand the elements. It's also necessary to consider code, public safety and the function of shared space." Despite the obstacles, the biggest reward is the "pleasure to engage people from all walks of life." As we anxiously await this alluring project and ask the artist about her progress, she assures us: "All the pieces seem in place and ready to go!"

Check out more public art in a city near you, in our feature "From NYC to Dubai - Public Art Heats Up for the Summer"

Written by MutualArt's Christine Bednarz

What do you think of Jessica Stockholder's Color Jam? How does color affect your mood?  Which installations are popping up in your city this season?