Chicago Year of Public Art 2017

Chicago Architectural Biennial September 16, 2017 through January 7, 2018

Terrain Biennial, October 1 – November 15, 2017 with Kick-Off Block Party Sunday, October 1, 2-7 PM

Terrain Biennial site in Springfield, Illinois

The second Chicago Architectural Biennial and the third Terrain Biennial—along with the Year of Public Art—enliven spaces large and small in Chicago and beyond. They ask questions about perceptions and politics of lived space. They envision new ways for people and  art to make and inhabit space.

Installation view of Vertical City at Sidney R. Yates Hall, 2017, Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial, © Tom Harris.

The Terrain Biennial grew organically from Terrain, the artist-run exhibition space created by Sabina Ott and John Paulett that hosts outdoor art projects at their home in Oak Park, Illinois. Terrain began as a way of using the outdoor space of a private residence, namely the front porch and yard, to create an art-centered community through a year-round program of openings and exhibitions.

Terrain Biennial site in Evanston, Illinois

The 2017 Terrain Biennial stretches to residential and commercial sites across Illinois, including 31 sites in Oak Park, 21 in Chicago, 17 in Springfield, and 8 sites in Evanston. Further afield, Biennial artists and curators are celebrating their local art communities with sites in Arizona, California, Iowa, Indiana, North Carolina, Sweden, and France.

Jenny Kendler, Apache County along Highway 191 in Arizona

Unlike the homegrown Terrain Biennial, the Chicago Architectural Biennial is a big-time production that brings leaders in the world of architecture and their creations to Chicago. With the theme “Make New History,” Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee involve nearly 150 practitioners in a global exploration of contemporary architectural thinking.

Installation view of Ania Jaworska, Entrance Installation, 2017, Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial, © Tom Harris

The epicenter of the Architectural Biennial is the Chicago Cultural Center. Through a spectacular reimagining of this historic jewel in the city’s public art infrastructure, Artistic Directors Johnston Marklee give visitors visceral experiences of space and time as they move through the building’s monumental and intimate spaces.

Chicago Cultural Center, courtyard and corridor

The Biennial doesn’t stop with occupying city center. It presents architectural imaginings throughout Chicago via partnerships with cultural institutions and community arts centers. Its schedule of events, too, with panels and performances makes contemporary architecture into a living breathing human endeavor that requires and rewards public attention.

Installation view of SO-IL and Ana Prva?ki, l’air pour l’air, 2017. Courtesy of Chicago Architecture Biennial, Steve Hall © Hall Merrick Photographers

Lise McKean

Lise McKean is a writer, editor, and anthropologist based in Chicago.

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