The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) of the City of Chicago invited artists to be part of this exhibition – 50 x 50 – one artist/collaborative will represent each one of the 50 wards that integrate the political landscape of the City. The exhibition is a rich, powerful and diverse collection of perspectives and themes. (February 11–April 9, 2017. Chicago Cultural Center, Exhibit Hall)
Photographer Sara Pooley and myself collaborated in this interactive installation addressing the over forty Chicago Public Schools that closed since 2013.
Each piece of artwork speaks differently, and representations of the South Side are no exception in crossing boundaries of form, message, and style. An installation piece by 3rd Ward residents Paola Aguirre and Sara Pooley titled “Closed Chicago Public Schools” evenly spaces out rectangular yellow boxes on an expanse of wall. Each box bears the name of a school in stark black type. An accompanying poster provides a map of the schools and offers background for the display, reading: “Since 2013, over forty Chicago Public Schools have closed due to budget cuts, under-enrollment and low performance. This group of buildings average 68,000 square feet of indoor space per closed school—this leaves more than three million square feet of existing space to be reimagined plus hundreds of acres of outdoor space.” The display is commemorative and constructive; in the artwork of locals, a nuanced understanding and representation of complex dynamics within the city accompanies a plain hope.
Excerpt from Curating a New Canon by SYLVIA DE BOER, The South Side Weekly.