Graham exhibit challenges architectural metaphors and shrinks them
Loop North News


Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Above) An exhibit at Graham Foundation called Midwest Culture Sampler. Outside a miniature city limits, other corncobs surround a model of Marina City. In distance at left is the Leaning Tower of Niles, a tower northwest of Chicago that houses water filtration tanks. It was built in 1934 to look like Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

Graham exhibit challenges architectural metaphors and shrinks them

At 1/500th scale, architecture examines its metaphors. Concrete corncobs mingle in defiance of The Institute of Scale.

18-Feb-15 – If a tornado sliced through the Midwest, picking up a cheese shop in Wisconsin, a White Castle restaurant in Kansas, and Chicago’s Marina City, shrunk them to 1/500th their sizes and deposited them within a single square mile, that is roughly what you would see in a room on the second floor of River North’s Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Midwest Culture Sampler is more than a model of farmland surrounding a nameless town. Its creators, Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Design With Company, say the buildings depicted either challenge architectural metaphors – or accept and have fun with them.

Marina City, reluctant to accept the nickname “corncobs,” is portrayed as reveling in it, its towers rising in a farm field, surrounded by other concrete corncobs, next to the Corn Palace of Mitchell, South Dakota.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Above) In a 126-inch-square depiction of an average square mile in the Midwest, Marina City is now neighbors with the Corn Palace, an arena in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Hicks, who is also an assistant professor of architecture at University of Illinois at Chicago, says his model – made of 3D prints, model scenery, yarn, and dirt – represents “an average square mile located somewhere in Middle America, built to examine the potentials of architectural character.”

“It serves as the site for existing midwestern monuments that were originally developed to generate distinctive regional character,” says Hicks in his notes for the exhibit, “as well as new organizations developed in our project to study their effects – The Institute of Quantities, The Institute of Scale, and The Institute of Image.”

Architecture, according to Hicks, “is a device through which the Midwest develops distinctive characteristics by self-consciously transforming found reality.”

Reality is transformed, he says, when the everyday environment is celebrated and space and people are arranged to generate a performance.

The artwork is part of Graham Foundation’s current exhibit, Treatise: Why Write Alone?

Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Above) The cobs surrounding Marina City are a depiction of Cornhenge, an arrangement of large concrete corncobs in a field in Dublin, Ohio.

 More photos: Graham Foundation

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News |

Published 18-Feb-15 12:52 AM

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