Chicago Avenue Streetscape/ Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs
The National Endowment for the Arts
This was a public design program which utilized existing communication infrastructures along Chicago Avenue to provide a public voice for disadvantaged mothers in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. The project appropriated and adapted a number of abandoned sign structures atop small businesses along the streetscape. Designed to draw attention to the myths and stereotypes of the outside community, it collected and articulated the collective public voice of a largely invisible, multi-generational community of mothers, daughters, and caregivers in this inner city African-American neighborhood.
An assertive act of infiltration into the urban landscape, the double-sided sign structures carry large-scale declaratives readable from cars passing through---which primarly speak to the outside community. Layered beneath and extending below are longer statements---directed to pedestrians---which primarily speak to the community itself. The declaratives read as highlighted sound bites, appropriating a mass media trope on behalf of the local neighborhood.
Constructed of painted steel support structures, plexiglas and corrugated thermoplastic panels, and die-cut vinyl inscriptions.