Hopes and Dreams

Title: Hopes and Dreams

Site: Museum Campus/Roosevelt “El” Station
Wabash and Roosevelt Road, Chicago

Artists:   Juan Angel Chávez and Corinne Peterson

Assistants: Beth Wilson, Catina Robinson, Lidia Garcia, Dennis Nunez, Peter Pacheco, Sophia Hatten, Yoojin Jeong, Gabriel Villa, Lisa Yu, Tony Allen, Zack Piper, and Elizabeth Bowles

Community Participants: Chicago and Field Museum visitors and volunteers

Sponsors: Chicago Department of Transportation, Chicago Transit Authority, and Chicago Public Art Group

Year: 2002

Scale: 1800 square feet

Materials: Hand made ceramic and cracked ceramic tile mosaic

Information: Over three years in the making, Hopes and Dreams, created by Juan Angel Chávez and Corinne Peterson and 12 assistants as well as thousands of volunteers, is composed of 1,800 square feet of handmade clay, broken ceramic, and glass tiles shaped into images “symbolizing the constant human search to understand nature, our surroundings, and ourselves,” according to the artists. The work is sited on three walls of a two-story atrium in the Near South Transfer Tunnel, which connects adjacent subway and elevated stations at Roosevelt Road in the South Loop of downtown Chicago.

The mosaic is composed largely of more than 4,000 clay tiles created by men, women, and children during weekend workshops held on the grounds of the Field Museum in the summer of 1999. With CPAG artists providing guidance and materials, participants carved images related to the six themes of Project Millennium, a year-long city-sponsored cultural initiative--Origins, Transitions, New Directions, Discovery and Technology, Environment, and Shaping Community. People also incorporated their personal aspirations into the tiles.

During the winter of 1999-2000, Chávez, Peterson, and assistants worked in a loft space donated by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and created a conceptual plan and overall design. They painted, fired, and assembled the “people tiles” (tiles by volunteer participants) into readable designs that formed a “scenic collage of contemplative images from nature”--clouds, plants, trees, forests, oceans, animals, birds, sunsets, earth and space, etc.—augmenting the composition with their own “specialty” ceramic tiles to extend the design concept and to cover more square footage. The artists invented a new technique for assembling the mosaic—using construction adhesive to attach the backs of the many handmade tiles to burlap mesh so that sections of the mosaic could eventually be lifted and set in place with thin set cement.

In early 2002 work began on the Near South Transfer Tunnel at Roosevelt Road and State Street. The Chicago Department of Transportation project was contracted to the Walsh Construction Group, which subcontracted with the CPAG to develop the mosaic design for their site.

Starting in the spring of 2002, the Group rented a vacant 10,000-square-foot warehouse on the near South Side. The artist team along with volunteers configured the mosaic to cover the atrium, adding more specialty tiles that were glazed and fired in an on-site kiln. The six-week installation phase took place in fall 2002.

The nature-themed mosaic now enhances the subway/el stop closest to the Museum Campus, a landscaped area connecting the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. CPAG director Jon Pounds, Chávez, and Peterson are pleased that the project succeeds in humanizing--or “naturalizing”--what could have been a stark, uninviting transportation site.

“It was a lesson-learning opportunity for us to work on such a large-scale public construction project--we were able to adapt to ongoing changes,” says Pounds. “It’s interesting that the mosaic is an aesthetically complex and contemporary-looking piece that also involved the contribution of thousands of volunteers. And it’s wonderful that the CTA has established this amazing artwork as a standard for quality and engagement for its new public art program.”