Interactive art

By Biana Smith

The Chicago Cultural Center has hosted many art exhibits in its time, but the historic institution will make itself the center  of  attention with its upcoming exhibition “aroundcenter”.

From Feb. 1 to April 27, “aroundcenter” will explore the architectural and historical importance of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., through multiple artistic mediums such as painting, sculpture and videography, according to Jan Tichy, the exhibit’s lead artist. 

Tichy said the free exhibit will consist of nine thought-provoking installations that highlight different aspects of the center such as its design. Each piece was inspired by the artist’s individual perceptions of the world around them.

“For many of us Chicagoans, [the center is] very confusing,” Tichy said. “[The artists] used different installations to suggest a new way of navigating the place, looking at it and thinking about it.”

In one of his installations, Tichy used approximately 6,000 projection slides from art classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he teaches as an adjunct art professor. Tichy said he recovered the slides when the college transitioned its teaching materials to a digital format. 

Tichy pieced the slides together and created a large stained glass installation on the center’s 5th floor south-facing windows that is meant to conceptualize the history of art.

 “I [compiled] them by color [to] look at history in a different way,” Tichy said.

Alyssa Moxley, a graduate student at SAIC and managing editor of FNews Magazine, will also be featured in “aroundcenter.” Moxley said she used her personal experiences to make vinyl records that visitors will be able to listen to, or electronically download, as they tour the exhibit. Moxley said her contribution will also allow guests to interact with the pieces through instructions in the digital recordings.

“The Cultural Center is a space which brings together so many different kinds of people … and highlighting the kind of works that have occurred there and inviting people to interact with the space of the building [makes it] part of the legacy of the building,” Moxley said.

Daniel Schulman, exhibit curator and employee at the Chicago Cultural Center, said he chose Tichy to head the exhibition because of his artistic ability to illuminate the center’s  connection to Chicago.

“[The Chicago Cultural Center] is a vehicle for the Chicago city government to provide access to anyone who comes through the building to look at work by Chicago and nationally and internationally known artists and performers,” Schulman said. 

Karen Irvine, associate director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography and an adjunct professor in the Art+Design Department, said she is excited about “aroundcenter” because it will display the Chicago Cultural Center’s history as both the Chicago Public Library’s first home and as a war memorial.

“There’s an element of ‘look-for-it,’ discover new things in the space that won’t be typical when you walk into a gallery space,” Irvine said. “You expect to see art and then there’s art on the walls.”