At 8pm every evening, Candida Alvarez plugs in a string of multicolored Christmas lights that are taped in a heart shape on the glass door of her balcony. The work, “Grateful,” is her contribution to the site-specific group exhibition, “Art-in-Place,” organized by CNL Projects and Terrain Exhibitions. The organizers asked participants to turn their homes into makeshift galleries to connect artists and their communities. Alvarez calls her gesture a “gift of thanks” to her community, which keeps her “safe, fed and alive during this pandemic.”
Most of the 265 participating artists are in the greater Chicago area, although there are submissions from locations including Peru, India and Japan. Photos of the artwork are also on the CNL Projects website, along with an interactive map showing where each piece is installed.
Other contributions are simply beautiful, and give in to the increased attention those of us in lockdown are able to pay to our surroundings. John Early has installed a square mirror on two pieces of rebar, angled so that it reflects the sky to passersby. “Towards Luminescence: Radiant Frisson,” by Mayumi Lake, recalls a nightclub, with colorful lights illuminating hanging sculptures and teddy bears with disco-ball faces. Installed at the Riverside Art Center, the piece is viewable from the street and is activated from 5pm to midnight each day. In St. Louis, the artist Joss Barton used corrugated plastic, vinyl and steel to plaster a poem on the facade of a brick building. In a 1970s style of Art nouveau font, the poem reads, “Watercolors blue/A transfemme heart/Wrapt in tin foil/ Seal in lip stain/Parade by oxcart/Sacred kinda loves.” The sky-blue and reflective silver letters jump out against the dark brick, a startling burst of joy on a city corner.
Intended to last for a month, the exhibition has been extended through August 23 and will expand to include submissions made in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. In a collaborative piece by Compound Yellow and Vince Murphy, a chalkboard is installed in the Oak Park gallery’s yard. Prompts are written on the board each week for the community to respond to. In one photo, in response to the question, “What are you afraid of?” someone wrote: “White ppl.” It’s a sharp reminder that for many in our community, the right to life is constantly under threat. (Kerry Cardoza)
“Art-in-Place” runs through August 23. Visit cnlprojects.org/artinplace to view the work.