The creation of cultural, commercial, or personal works in our public spaces is a matter of great honor and responsibility. Through thoughtful concept building coupled with a careful process, public works can be true expressions that have lasting and positive impacts on the communities in which they reside.
Walls serve a functional purpose of creating shelter, the homes and spaces that protect us from the elements. By way of a reinterpreted Woody Guthrie lyric, Lindsey Dorr-Niro’s “This Land” expressed the inverse purpose of a wall in the greatest way I have ever heard: “A moment of freedom within vision, a structure and field filled with potential.” A wall, at its best, can be utilized for emotional, aesthetic good.
Home is the place that we come to live and to love. It is where our growth and investment flourishes, where respect and care resides. Be it where we are coming from or where we are aiming to go, the concept of home travels universally for each of us on a personal level. It is ours, it is yours, and it is mine. These familiar sentiments are why we care for our homes.
Within our built urban environment, this wall can serve as an opportunity to claim some power for an individual by expanding their idea of home to include their community. Through primary colors and a heavy-serifed, low-contrast lettering style, home is expressed fundamentally through well-structured solid form offering a stable, secure image.
During the production of this wall, Chicago was hit with a major storm. The temperature drop and storm duration prevented the paint from curing to the wall. The downpour washed away the final day’s worth of work and rendered a base so runny and damaged that starting over would have required sandblasting the wall and beginning from scratch; and that was the plan.
While home is what we desire, the idea of a destination is not the story of life. Life is the series of journeys across many destinations. While it is best to have a plan, it must be known that plans go astray. Life, if something less esoteric than a journey, it is the surprises, the unintended happenings. Individually, it is up to us to decide if we define our life on the moments that exceed our expectations or if we shall focus on that which disappoints or, even further, brings us head in hands crashing down on our knees.
To date, this wall in its damaged state, can be found in tens of thousands of images across Instagram with people sharing messages of admiration towards their home. Over countless weekends I have walked passed the wall and witnessed new families being formed as couples take their wedding photos in front of it. The City of Chicago recently released a tourism video featuring the wall, and I have seen it in movies, television programs, and publications all talking positively about this city.
While the finishing qualities were not planned, nor could we have purposely executed this effect, I believe its qualities speak more honestly about the ideas of life and home than a perfect execution could.