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Rooftop Project Space

Lillstreet’s Textile Department hosts artists from around the country and invites them to install work onto four, 9-foot flag poles on top of Lillstreet’s rooftop deck. Flags as well as alternative installation proposals will be considered.  Work can be seen from the CTA Montrose Brown Line elevated tracks and Metra Train tracks, as well as driving or walking down Montrose and Ravenswood Avenues.  Installations rotate monthly, May through December, and flags are displayed in the Textile Department’s hallway gallery two weeks prior to install date.

The installation space also serves as competition for artists, with Lillstreet awarding cash prizes for Best in Show ($500) and Honorable Mention ($150). Photo documentation will be provided to all participating artists.  Vist our “Call for Entries” page for more information, and please apply via Slideroom.

Project Space Artists

Upcoming Installations

October 2015 – Undine Brod
November 2015 – Lauren Cotton
December 2015 – Dain Mergenthaler
January 2016 – Michelle Brehmer

Current Installation

August 2015: Heather Brammeier
Artist Statement: Catenaries formed by elegant tangles of PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) adorn the Lillstreet Art Center building like a giant necklace. To create the tangled blue and red forms in my PEX sculptures, I harness the potential energy within the material. Manufactured as a safer, flexible alternative to PVC, PEX is sold in large coils. When unwrapped, the PEX retains these curves. By twisting the material against its natural coil, I am able to create tension that gives structure and strength. The eye is drawn to track red and blue lines, but is quickly overwhelmed by the task. The material becomes a metaphor for inner conflict, such as the struggle to reconcile what is true with what we desire. Learning to accept the struggles that are a part of life allows us to find joy even in the midst of strife. The vivid red and blue lines have an inherent light that encourage associations with jump-ropes and hula-hoops.

Past Installations


July 2015: Krzysztof Lower
“The Landscape of This City Is Violent and It Makes Me Anxious”
Artist Statement: The Landscape of This City is Violent and It Makes Me Anxious is a dazzling installation utilizing familiar language, a system of modularity (and chance), and site-specificity to interrogate the visual, physical, and economic landscape of urban environments. In neighborhoods across the country, it seems that a few people with a lot of money are extracting massive profits from real estate investments and (re-)development projects. Accompanying this activity are “AVAILABLE” and “DEVELOPMENT SITE” billboards and advertisements like it’s some kind of promise to the residents of the city for necessary accommodations in the future, such as grocery stores or community spaces. Though ironically—yet deliberately—subterfuge, this piece provokes and participates in conversation(s) regarding complex social and urban issues such as rising rent, cultural displacement, the erosion of civic life, and surveillance and privatization of urban space.

June 2015: Nico Gardner
“S/S 15″
Artist Statement: In S/S 15, culled images from commercial catalogs are transformed into indexical, fragmented compositions within a common theme. These forms mimic off-the-shelf products placed in gridded rows for the viewer to indulge in comparison and variety. Situated within a hypereality where analytics and infatuation blend, an embrace of consumption and critique merge into a single ambiguous position. To ground this ambivalence, an act of making in opposition to consumption must occur. By creating these abstract forms through an exploration of consumable materials, my aim is to dissects this binary and create hybrid objects that amalgamate dissimilar perceptions. The constituent forms reveal themselves as articles of clothing, extending captivation to our constructed visual-identities. Flying above the viewer, these surreal products not only mirror the anthematic nature of online shopping, but also manifest the physical reality of contemporary products. With S/S 15, I flatten the space between what is online and what is overhead.

May 2015: Simon Pyle
“I Looked up to the Screen Above”
Artist Statement: Photography, like so much else, now lives on the screen. Instead of looking through a viewfinder to take a picture, we look at our screens to make images for other screens. Contemplation of the landscape consists of composing a shot through the screen of a phone. I Looked Up To The Screen Above translates the environment through the screen. By rephotographing a smartphone screen through a microscope, the pixels and gaps are revealed. Depending on the day, the photograph of the sky will either blend in or clearly break with the surroundings like a bad photoshop job in real life. Instead of the sky, we see its abstraction as represented on a screen. Counterintuitively, the photograph changes when viewed through a cameraphone; the pixels disappear, the information is compressed, and the low-res image becomes legible once again.


December 2014: The Collective Cleaners
Artist Statement: For our project, we have divided a single piece of textured fabric into four white “rags”. Each rag began in 4 separate cardinal points of Chicago, and then passed across boundaries and across the city. We asked that these rags be used for cleaning in any capacity: brightening an entryway, covering a tabletop for dinner, wiping walkways. Once the cleaning project was complete, the fabric was passed on to another who cared for it and used it to care for others. Log books accompanied the rags and traced the journeys and experiences of their caretakers. The collected information retained by these rags serve as flags highlighted on the roof of Lillstreet Art Center.

November 2014: Emily Manolo Ruiz
Artist Statement: Flags are symbols of identity, of pride, of allegiance, of communication and of battles fought. This iconography has intrigued me for the last three years, as I considered the ways these symbols could embody my personal experiences of loss and reconciliation.  Examining personal vulnerability has been an ongoing theme in my work. Open to anyone willing to participate, RELEASE is my first collaborative exploration of the topic. In modern society, we are at once isolated and hyper-connected. Authentic and meaningful interaction is more rare than ever, though we are given every opportunity to communicate. RELEASE interrelates the artist, participants and public by providing a safe platform to contribute painful recollections or private confessions in an investigation of shared experience. The project is a presentation of anonymous statements and letters acquired utilizing social media and other means, transferred onto fabric and sewn into flags. Through the symbolic act of displaying and flying the flags, the project acts as a collective catharsis for contributors the release of emotional burden, making art’s role as a means of expression accessible to all and ultimately, a metaphor of common triumph.

October 2014: CiaraAnne Brody
“Where Are You From?”
Artist Statement: Each of these flags displays the shape of a city in which I have lived. Limerick, my hometown, which I feel shaped me as a child and adolescent. Galway, the city where I studied and my creativity flourished. Chicago, where I currently reside and where I am trying to find my feet as a practicing artist. London, where I feel I belong and hope to someday call my permanent home. Each of these cities shape who I am today, so when answering the question “Where are you from?” it is hard to convey all of this in a quick response. The only straightforward reply is, Ireland.  The green on each flag represents how regardless of where I will live my Irish Identity will always be a part of me, a fact which I’ve only come to appreciate since immigrating to the US.
Through this series the viewer is encouraged to question their own identity and how the places they’ve lived have shaped their personalities.

September 2014: Jaclyn Jacunkski
“Outside Coming In (Take II)”
Artist Statement: The passing of the artist Nancy Holt, a pioneer in Land Art who the created Sun Tunnels, inspires my project Outside Coming In. Her works comprised of four concrete pipes in the desert placed toward the sunrises and sunsets of the solstices. Each tube is oriented so at certain times of day, the sunlight is framed and light shines through. My homage to her uses four flags to frame the sky. The flags are made to reflect light during the fall equinox when the length of day and night is nearly equal. They are constructed with light, flexible and mirror-like fabric to create subtle effects that camouflaged the flag within the sky, confusing where the flag ends and sky begins and becomes more defined when activated by the wind.

August 2014: Veronica Siehl
“Invisible Death”
Artist Statement: Utilizing imagery that references the cyclical phases of the moon, I question what it means to preserve, remember and let go. Looking at the four quarters of the moon’s 28 day cycle, there is beautiful symmetry and opposition: A half moon suggests a Full moon while hiding it from view. The new moon reflects the full moon. The first quarter holds memory of the third quarter, and so on. The process of cyanotype itself yields memory: the absence of light hitting sensitized material records an object’s presence. Photographic in nature cyanotypes can fade with prolonged exposure to light. However, its vibrance can be revived simply with darkness. In mourning we choose to actively remember a feeling, person, place, object or moment that is no longer with us. We are left with paradox: we use that which is tangible to bind ourselves to that which is absent. We are left to rely on symbols.

July 2014: Margaret Baggott
“Weathering Change”
Artist statement: Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same: people mature and age , plants grow, and the weather patterns can switch in a moment, especially here in Chicago. Rainfall and sunshine are maximum during the month of August. These extremes can be monitored and measured with  scientific instruments. Or they can be observed through the changes in my piece. For example, the knitted tubes will be transformed as the water-soluble thread dissolves when it rains. Then, as the sun shines, these once white pieces will change to many colors. When the sun sets, surprisingly some threads will continue to glow through the night. These extreme changes in the piece are analogous to the extreme changes in weather patterns in Chicago and more importantly, demonstrate that change will always happen and nothing remains the same.

June 2014: Elizabeth Ensz
“Always is a Promise”
Artist statement: Inspired by Walmart’s slogan “Always,” Always is a Promise features 4 large-scale flag versions of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag screen printed with text and graphics that draw from the imagery of American greatness that appear on state flags, coins, and seals.  These Bag Flags compare America’s mass-cultural investment in consumption and disposability and the human desire to imagine permanence through self-memorialization in the form of symbols and monuments. While one impulse is to remember and the other to quickly forget, each will physically describe our society to future generations.  Always is a promise of forever- Rome’s democracy lasted 500 years; The United States has existed half as long; But the plastic bag will endure for millennia.

May 2014: Erin Thompson
Artist Statement: As someone affected by depression, I find that while most people are aware of the disorder, they don’t always grasp what it means to live under it’s influence. These flags convey how depression separates people from their communities making them unable to reach out to those around them. The three flags with lighter interiors represent that community. They are vibrant, reaching out to one another to connect. The flag with the dark interior shows how isolated a depressed person can feel. While they struggle to fit in with those around them, they feel empty inside, and like they cannot make those meaningful connections with the world around them. I am fascinated by the ability of color and texture to convey feelings and ideas. As a lifelong creative person, color has been a huge motivating factor in my drive to create. What started as a hobby has become a passion for making the world a more vibrant place. Color has been proven to affect mind and body, and I am drawn to the idea that color in art can so strongly impact someone.

January 2014: Emily Moorhead
Artist Statement: Flags, banners, and signs have been culturally utilized for identification, celebration, prayer, and protest. These multiuse objects express individual sentiments when hung on a door frame or held during a march. While they flutter in the wind, their message becomes subversive in a sensitive movement that creates a metaphor for human existence. This work quotes these cultural flag uses by incorporating Buddhist prayer flag colors, maritime symbols, recent protest banners, and heraldic flag shapes all while proclaiming messages of a hope protest.


December 2013: Paige Fetchen
Artist Statement: In my work I concentrate on the space that remains after an object has departed; bringing item and lo- cation together. Through this process I anchor the nonexistent and the changed. The work derives from objects defining spaces and spaces defining objects. I am interested in translating the removal of space from those objects as a metaphor for human relationships and our intimate understand- ing of space through objects. In this flag series I have isolated the tops of existing spaces creating an equal denominator between each space. Making the monetary value of each structure neither important nor visible. All four flags create an environment I once inhabited, but no longer have access to. Through time the archi- tecture of these forms may have changed, however the generic light sources that hung from ceilings or were placed on nightstands are found on a regular basis as I survey the homes of others. Objects are usually discarded and their environment is left empty. I feel the architecture and these domestic items act as a reminder of each other’s presence.

November 2013: Rachel Snack
“Banner-scape: No. 5-8 Acadia, Cadillac, Oberg & Aran”
Artist Statement: I create objects of memory, provoking physical feelings connected to specic places of meaning. Moments of wishing that a place like that still existed,  re-creating lost spaces, spaces of personal value, and collections of places. I’m intrigued by the way memory can act as a resistance strategy, saving you from what you’ve lost. Land has become my identity; or lack thereof. The small tid-bits of memory that I have survive in sensual instants connected to places or objects. As a way to preserve these memories I have begun to collect landscapes. In my body of work ‘Explorations in Landscape’ I focus on the portable landscape, which I call the ‘banner-scape’. These banner-scapes serve as a moment captured, a memory trigger of structure and color. The woven form that they take is an interpretive shape based on the landscape they are in conversation with. They can be placed in the space they were created to capture or be added into another landscape as a new memory. Superimposed, they become like my memories, specific and fragmented.

October 2013: Eric Wall and Erin Minckley Chlaghmo
“Flags Mistaken for Stars”
Artist Statement: Both optical and vibrant, these five triangular flags aim to reflect light from the city in the night sky and create a dialogue with the viewer during the day. The triangular shapes represent the rays of a traditional five pointed star, or druze. Color variation and printed patterns adorn each flag, making them distinct while simultaneously communicating with their companion flags through a common visual language.  Like the flags, the artists are communicating over vast distances to create this project.  While four of our flags fly in Chicago where Chlaghmo currently resides, the fifth flag while be displayed in Copenhagen, Denmark, where Wall is currently based. Similarly, the five flags are also communicating from afar the way the stars in the night sky project to us on Earth. /

September 2013: Steven Driscoll Hixson
Artist Statement: My work is inspired by the challenges of walking in urban landscapes. I witness and negotiate the complicated system of pedestrian paths. Traffic signage informs the colors, geometry, and symbols. Physical interruptions in the walking experience add texture, dimension, and tonal variations in my re-creations of wayfinding strategies. This flag series replicates pedestrian navigation into fractured and fragmented compositions with pattern influences of crosswalks and the street grid. Directional cues alternate in the flag series to illustrate calamity of the urban environment. In opposition to a steel sign, the message of warning is communicated with greater humanity as the fiber surface offers protection and shelter like a familiar quilt. The flag installation atop the Lillstreet Art Center dramatizes the sense of icon displacement.

August 2013: Nora Renick Rinehart
“Interactions of Sky”
Artist Statment: Every day of 2013 I have taken one photograph in which I match a paint sample to the color of the sky as exactly as possible. While the photographs constitute one avenue of investigation for this body of work, I am also interested in analyzing the colors of the swatches in their own right. In his seminal book, Interactions of Color, artist, designer and teacher, Josef Albers, presents a series of exercises through which students are able to gain understanding of color as it relates to art and design. By combining the frameworks of Albers’ exercises with my own collection of sky swatches, I propose to create a series of flags that investigate how the colors found just in just one location (the sky) function abstractly and in relation to one another. Flags provide a particularly effective opportunity for these investigations by allowing the colors of the flags to interact directly with the color of the sky. In order to push this relationship, my flags will incorporate cut-out sections within the compositions so that the sky can act both as an external frame for the exercises and as an active participant. I am also interested in utilizing the site-specific nature of this installation by using only swatches collected on-site over the first six months of 2013.

July 2013: Dana Zurzolo
To Makers Unknown: A Last Hurrah”
Artist Statement:These flags, or pennants, are created from quilt tops made by anonymous women during the middle of the last century.  Pennants are flags. They are emblems of victory, carried into and out of battle.  They are symbols of importance, flown when the high ranking commodore is aboard a naval ship. And they are ledges of honor. These particular pennants are made in celebration and honor of the creative and hard-working women.  They are makers unknown. We can probably agree that these colorful, unselfconscious constructions were created by women with families. They did not come from great economic means. The fabric pieces are worn, cut from recycled curtains, dresses, men’s work shirts, children’s clothes outgrown.  Some pieced quilt tops have a distinct elegant arrangement. Others are made with whatever was usable, showing crude techniques. But they all show labor.

June 2013: Allison Svoboda

In many cultures throughout history there has been a tradition of sending coded messages through floral arrangements. I find the comparison of our current social media more vague and coded then Victorian times. I chose to use these social media images of my teenage daughters and their friends as the inspiration for these portraits on the flags. Each figure is composed flowers according to their coded messages from either the Persian, Victorian or Japanese cultue. For example, the lotus flower represents sensuality and innocence, two strong messages teens send out on social media daily.

January 2013: Stephanie Fortin
Artist Statement: Warp and Weft pays tribute to the process of creating a piece of cloth.Process is very important in my practice; the act of dyeing and printing is equal to the design itself. With this installation I allude to the warp and weft of a piece of fabric, continuing my work with shibori and stripes. The stripes on the flags are hand dyed using the Itajime shibori method, a traditional Japanese resist dyeing technique that has to do with folding and clamping. The two vertical hung flags represent the warp of a fabric, while the two horizontal flags represent the weft. The flags are also installed staggering one horizontal and one vertical after another to imitate a plain weave of a textile.


December 2012: Melissa Leandro
Artist Statement: In my flag series, I comment on the influx of change through my variation in lines, shapes, and colors. These globular entities include smaller masses that gravitate toward larger ones, and are either consumed or cast out. The larger masses being warm in color while external entities become cooler in their hue. Repetitive stitch’s moving in and around several directions with no set trajectory. Rows of stitches navigate through uncharted territory. They attempt to merge with other groups of lines and simply disappear, or go around repeatedly in circles. The appearance of the flag is contingent on which side you look at- front or back. A two sided ness that reflects the contrast between others and ourselves.

October/November 2012: Wendy Franklin
Artist Statement: I never have a plan, but always have a vision.  To me, great art doesn’t need to be universally understood.  If you love it, that’s enough.  My work isn’t meant to send a grand message, cure the world’s ills, or address problems in society.  It is simple to bring color and texture and form together in a way that makes people happy.  I want people to look at my pieces, fall in love, and NOT know why.

September 2012: Jamie Bertsch
Artist Statement: I am an unmaker. I unmake the work. I rip and unravel. I take apart the seams, and rework. Casting on each stitch, the fabric passes through my hand, then on and off the needle. I reuse an old memory, and reveal new things about it. Spreading out the blanket, and pulling up the rug. This sequence of flags was made by unraveling previous work, collecting cherished fabrics, and utilizing scrap yarns. Unraveled and found material was obsessively knit and patch-worked into an organically growing form. with strands unfurled is a record of multiple transformations, time, memory, and sincere effort. The work combines elements of layering, history, systems of accrual, and color— equal parts hand, heart, and mind.

August 2012: Liz Aston
Artist Statement: As a response to the Lillstreet rooftop flag installation project, I am interested in presenting a flag that pays homage to textiles and the decorative arts, while bringing interior forms and objects into unfamiliar outdoor spaces. By creating a lace-like flag full of holes, I would like to explore the idea of a flag as a dysfunctional object, documenting how it responds to the forces of the environment, whether it will fly or drape delicately full of holes, and looking at the ways in which people respond to subverted textile objects as they are taken out of context and placed in new and interesting spaces.

July 2012: Keeley Marie Stitt
Artist Statement: The flag designs emerged from recent sculptural investigations integrating the hexagon form. As one of only three shapes capable of perfectly tessellating a plane with minimal surface area, the hexagon is the perfect natural container, best observed in the beehive. The flag as an object has its roots as a component of communication. In my works, the hexagon is a symbolic surrogate for words and meaning. Just as bees store their civilization within the hive structure, meaning and memory is stored in written words. Yet, instead of containing meaning, the hexagon in each flag serves to frame perception.  Each hexagon functions as a lens or passageway through which the viewer’s gaze passes into the framed sky, land or cityscape.  In this way, theperfect natural container no longer contains, but frames and allows an individual to pass through and into a new perception.

June 2012: Ashley Ivey
Artist Statement: My work stems from a deep rooted curiosity about the way people perceive and interact with the world around them. I am fascinated with the tactics people use to cope with fear, insecurity, love, discomfort and joy. As often bitter as sweet, our actions affect those around us. This series of flags depict the moment just before a set of beings embrace. Each flag shows a pair of creatures overflowing with joy and excitement as they reach out for each other. I’d like to suggest great belonging and happiness with these images and I hope those feelings might gently ease into the viewer.

May 2012: Maggy Rozycki Hiltner
Artist statement: I love to create images that at first appear whimsical or vibrantly happy but on closer inspection are not quite so. Sometimes it’s a malicious undertone to the relationships, or a lack of self-control on the part of the characters, or maybe an otherworldlyness hidden in the everyday. I like how this subtext works against the comfortable and innocuous medium of fabric and stitching. For these flags, I enlarged the Dick and Jane-style figures found in my (usually small) stitched art. When I’m sewing, I notice the abstracted simplicity that reads as a face: a few small lines for the eyes, a speck or two for a nose. Enlarging these drawings made for a new set of shapes. I imagined the kitschy teakettles tooting out both good and questionable, and inquisitive kids imagining and exploring.


December 2011: Nancy Anne McPhee
Artist statement:The series of flags, entitled Polari Flags, uses stripes and coded language to simultaneously conceal and activate the visual field of the flag. I’m particularly interested in the flag as an icon of identity and communication. This project will continue my current investigation into the stripe as method for troubling visibility, and the means through which queer and Other communities form meaning and communication.

October 2011: Yuko Uemura
Artist statement: I wanted to send something unique from Japan because it is a part of who I am and a big part of my inspiration as an artist. Two years ago I moved into my grandmother’s house – where I discovered many scrap pieces of fabric and textiles that she used to make kimonos.  I was inspired by the colorful fabrics that I found – many dating back over 40 years. I used a patch technique to combine the many scraps of textured fabrics. My hopes are that when people see my flags they will see the creativity and many years of traditions found in Japanese culture.

September 2011: Lillstreet Textile Department
The September installation flag series showcased a collaboration of prints from previous students, monitors, and faculty within the Textile Department at Lillstreet Art Center.  The print studio uses drop cloths, usually bed linens, to protect the padded surface of the tabletops.  Due to the porous nature of fabric, every time a print is created, the ink or dye “bleeds” onto the cloth underneath.  Our drop-cloths end up being beautiful pieces of art, collage imagery from everyone who has come through our program and printed in the studio during the past several years.

July 2011: Chris Wildrick *2011 RUNNER-UP /HONORABLE MENTION WINNER*
Artist statement: “Data Field Flags”–digital prints on canvas that derive from a number of charts, graphs, and maps that I have made for previous projects. I make a lot of charts for the various conceptual art projects that I work on. These charts are highly detailed and in order to understand the information on them, they need to be seen at very close range. However, they are also purposefully designed to look interesting from a distance. The flags come from a variety of projects and their content is not necessarily related to one another; the only thing that ties them together is their distance from the ground, which will negate our ability to read them as data, and will only let us see them as abstract visual compositions.

June 2011: Kevin Curry *2011 BEST IN SHOW WINNER*
Artist statement: Much of my work deals with language, culture and storytelling. I employ the history of a simplified quilt in constructing each flag for “I Will,” the 5′ x 8′ body of which is made from white bed-linens. Each letter is made up of individual 2″ squares of fabric in 4 shades of grey as a reference to the magnification of the printed word. All of the material for this piece are bed-linens reclaimed from thrift stores – the history carried with these fabrics being one of togetherness, family, communication, anger, loneliness, sex etc. and though it’s story will remain unknown, each square of fabric will bring it’s own dialogue to the rooftop. As the winds change and the flags drift accordingly, so will the intent and impact of the wording – promises made and broken, emotions, threats and fear being blown back and forth as a reaction to their environment   *(when read from ‘behind’, the sentence will appear in an unintentional, but humorously welcomed nod to ‘Yoda’).

About Lillstreet

Founded in 1975, Lillstreet Art Center is a large community of artists and students working side-by-side in a friendly environment which encourages and inspires artistic growth in the individual. Lillstreet supports the arts through an artist residency program, gallery, studio space, education, and an outreach program.

Hours and Location

Monday - Thursday: 10am - 7:30pm
Friday - Sunday: 10am - 6pm

4401 N Ravenswood (at Montrose)
Chicago, IL 60640 / 773.769.4226
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