I’m lucky to go to work every day in Chicago’s South Loop, a neighborhood that’s a fascinating blend of cultural institutions, colleges, and business. While I work on Michigan Avenue, one block west is Wabash, a cavernous street slightly off the tourists’ path, topped by the El tracks and full of hidden gems. One of my favorite parts of this area is the Wabash Arts Corridor, a so-called “living urban canvas” spearheaded by Columbia College Chicago to make visible the creative community of its campus.
When I attended Columbia in 2008, they were just beginning the murals and large-scale art installations that have now taken over this area. At that time I was lucky enough to create a window installation that was on display for a few months at 623 S. Wabash, a hint at things to come. Today the Wabash Arts Corridor encompasses Wabash Avenue from Roosevelt to Van Buren, Michigan to State Street, and features more than 20 large-scale outdoor art pieces, from murals to sculptures to installations.
As part of this spring and summer’s Big Walls event–in which WAC will install 18 new pieces– Dutch artist Collin van der Sluijs recently completed a mural at 11th and Michigan. Featuring an explosion of flowers, van der Slujis researched native Illinois plants and animals to include in the piece, rooting it in place figuratively as well as literally.
I’m lucky enough to pass this spot every day on my afternoon commute and got to watch the mural emerge against the huge brick wall over the course of a few days this month. All of the artwork on the Wabash Arts Corridor is inspiring, and I’m especially thrilled to have this beautiful piece now greet me every day.