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Walking through the Wabash Arts Corridor

WHETHER YOU’RE ONE of the 7,000 students at Columbia College Chicago or just passing by in the South Loop, it’s difficult not to see one of the various murals that have been set up by the Wabash Arts Corridor (WAC) Project since 2013.

“Make Your Own Luck” by ASVP or “The Native American Lost in Chicago… Dreamin’…” by Ella & Pitr are murals that can be seen just by their sheer size, while others like “Desenredando Fronteras” (Untangling Borders) by Héctor Duarte can slip past people on their commute.

For sophomore fashion major Cameron Zylka, the Wabash Arts Corridor could be another opportunity for Columbia College artists. “A lot of art majors here don’t get to show their work … if only Columbia could give them a space to express themselves —without getting arrested,” Zylka said.

The WAC is located on Wabash Avenue from Van Buren Street to Roosevelt Road and is framed to the east by Michigan Avenue and to the west by State Street.

Ellis Holland, sophomore in Audio Design and Production, thinks the college could add or replace more murals and “keep fresh art in the rotation.”

“The Native American Lost in Chicago… Dreamin’…” located on 527 South Wells Street, the big wall mural is one of two in Chicago created by French artists Ella & Pitr in 2016 to shine a light on the Native American history in Chicago. | Mateusz Janik

With over 40 street artistic creations that have been produced over the years, the process to even find a building to put a mural on can take some time, says Neysa Page-Lieberman, Executive Director of the Department of Exhibitions and Performance Spaces at Columbia College. She is also the director of and chief curator for the WAC.

“Now I really don’t do a project unless I have enough money to do it because I want to pay people fairly,” Lieberman said. Preferring the property owners who already have the funding to come to her, Lieberman doesn’t see the reason in going door to door asking people to put up a mural. Even if some of the building owners agree, all it takes is one person to say no for plans to fall through.

With Columbia preparing to open the doors to the new Student Center later this year, Lieberman mentions plans to utilize the blank canvas on the north side of the building. “We went ahead and put that infrastructure up on the Student Center, so we can have a large-scale banner there that we can rotate out every couple of years,” she said.

Lieberman talked about the idea of indoor murals that could be seen from Wabash Avenue through the windows of the Student Center, but plans for that haven’t been set, and the completion of the center is still underway despite delays.

To view the entire photo essay, click here.

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