Kay Rosen Does Chicago Good


Can art make a difference in the real world? Text-based conceptualist Kay Rosen thinks so. She’s determined to affect social change by inspiring good deeds large and small with her project for the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), “GO DO GOOD,” which was unveiled this morning.

The project consists of a six-story, yellow-and-black painted mural bearing the words and a number of panels throughout the State and Lake “L” train station, as well as a series of banners, bearing the word GOOD, displayed along State Street from Wacker to Congress streets. The mural, on the Stevens Building at 17 N. State Street, will remain on view until the end of the year, and the others through September.

The work’s message isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Installed in four registers of two letters each, the phrase might be read as nonsensical babbling: GO DO GO OD. Rosen intends the letters to at first appear to be abstract shapes before the viewer is able to recognize the words.

Additionally, the CLA and the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago have launched a summer campaign to inspire 100,000 good deeds. They are calling on the public, students, organizations and businesses in the Loop to volunteer and participate in events and programs that promote education. The focus in June will be on literacy, in July on nutrition and in August on collecting back-to-school supplies. A 4-foot-tall sculptural display on State Street between Washington and Madison will be a visual barometer of the number of kindly acts performed.

Rosen’s project is the second in the Art Loop series, which launched last year with Tony Tasset’s popular Eye sculpture.