Art On The Mart Celebrates 5th Anniversary With New Commissions by Artists Derrick Adams and Dr. Yiyun Kang

ART on THE MART, an innovative digital art project that transforms a Chicago architectural landmark into a larger-than-life canvas, will start its 2023 programming with a new commission by internationally renowned artist Derrick Adams, and the return of the popular projection of new work by local Chicago Public Schools (CPS) seniors. The spring programming will be on view nightly at 8:30 p.m. from April 14 to July 5.

“ART on THE MART is thrilled to kick off the 2023 season with work by Derrick Adams and CPS seniors. We are proud that ART on THE MART can showcase projects by internationally renowned artists together with the talent and promise of our local community,” said Cynthia Noble, executive director of ART on THE MART.

Funtime Unicorn: Ruby Rides Through Four Seasons builds upon Adams’s famed Funtime Unicorn project celebrating Black joy, love and play. The animation–realized in collaboration with The Channel–unfolds across the four seasons and begins with Ruby in a playground before she embarks on adventures through joyful dreamscapes. Ruby’s journeys feature a majestic display of colorful backgrounds and light tunnels across the 2.5 acres of THE MART, while visitors will also watch the flowers bloom, leaves fall, and snow drop in the playground as she returns for each season. Viewers will be transported through Ruby’s journey by the narration of a young girl, with background vocals by Cleo Reed, set to an original jazz-trumpet soundscape by Dave Guy from the Roots. Funtime Unicorn first appeared in Adams’s signature Floater series, a collection of vivid portraits of Black people in various states of rest and play, as a life-size inflatable pool float before Adams made Funtime Unicorn into a unique and interactive sculpture.

Funtime Unicorn: Ruby Rides Through Four Seasons coincides with EXPO Chicago’s 10th edition (April 13–16, 2023) when the Funtime Unicorn will be part of a new public commission on Chicago’s Navy Pier, as well as Adams’s work featuring as part of Rhona Hoffman Gallery’s booth. 2023 is a significant year for the artist with a new ‘Art at Amtrak’ commission inside Penn Station, the Beyond Granite project inviting him to install a temporary work on the National Mall in DC, and his Last Resort Artist Retreat welcoming its first month-long residence to Baltimore this Spring. On view from April 14—July 5, 2023, Adams’s ART on THE MART commission is presented in partnership with Rhona Hoffman Gallery, which also has a solo exhibition of Adams’s work on show until April 1, 2023.

“Working with THE MART as a canvas is completely unique and outside of the general gallery or museum context,” said Adams. “Through giving viewers a window into my imagination, I hope that they will again feel the magic of their childhood memories.”

The 2023 season will also feature new projections by the Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project, Gensler and Chicago Public School Students

From April 27—May 14, 2023, ART on THE MART will feature new artwork from soon-to-graduate CPS students, officially titled Select Works from the CPS Class of 2023. CPS will select the final work to be projected on the façade of THE MART from student submissions to the All-City High School Visual Arts Exhibition and the Senior Portfolio Showcase. Students’ artwork is selected based on a score given for technical skill, craftsmanship, originality and student voice. An original score also created by CPS students will accompany the piece. The launch of the ART on THE MART projection will coincide with the inaugural CPS multidisciplinary arts festival for the entire district, RE·VER·BER·ATE. The four-day event will showcase the widest possible representation of CPS student work (Pre-K-12th grades) across performing and visual arts.

ART on THE MART is free and can best be experienced from the jetty section of the Chicago Riverwalk on Wacker Drive between Wells Street and Franklin Street, where accompanying audio can also be heard. Spring programming will be on view nightly at 8:30 p.m. from April 14 to June 7.