What is That, Above the AC Pit Stairs?

If you’ve walked up the AC Pit stairs the past month or so, you’ve probably noticed a shimmering, gray, brown, and blue tornado-like art piece hanging above. If you looked at it for long enough, you may have seen it shift slightly with the drafts. It’s gotten a lot of students talking – but what is it supposed to be? There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

The name of the art piece is Whirled, and it was created by local Evanston artist Jill King. It was chosen along with other pieces to be displayed in the A wing after renovations. 10% of the budget for rebuilding A wing was reserved for “Art and Architecture,” and this includes purchasing art pieces. According to Executive Director of Facilities and Capital Planning Chris Kornsey, artists from Illinois “submit their pieces and within our budget, we pick however many pieces we can afford.” A panel of 6 members were on the art review board, including representatives from the Capitol Development Board and the Art and Architecture Board. They looked through thousands of submitted art pieces and settled on five from various Illinois residents, one of these being Whirled.

“We wanted something that would be visible.” Kornsey said. “So many students walk past a lot of the good art we have at the academy…so we wanted something that could hang, something that everyone would see every day and go ‘wow, look at that.’”

The artist was inspired by Hurricane Irma, which is why it resembles a hurricane. “[King] was so affected by it, but she saw the beauty within a hurricane, and the viciousness at the same time,” said Mrs. Joyce Symoniak, an IMSA art teacher.

Contrary to its appearance, the piece is constructed out of a gauze fabric layered with fiberglass*, and has a plastic like texture; it’s also coated to allow for dusting. Symoniak explained King’s process.

“She makes the wire structure first, and then she lays the material over it and she coats it, and she uses different types of coating to give it different types of effects,” Symoniak said. “And she’ll use different types of material; so in some places it’s translucent, and some places it’s not.”

The entire structure is very light for its size: only 24 pounds. This was done purposely, as the Whirled‘s lightweight size and the cable it hangs on allows slight shifting with the air flow in the building. This movement and the translucent material allows the light to hit the piece at different angles, so that every time you look at it, you see something different.

“I think it’s a wonderful piece,” said Symoniak. “It’s really cool, it’s really pretty, and it’s very unique.”

*Revised on April 14, 2018: The materials used for the art piece were formerly listed as paper.

About the Author

Erika is a senior and is a graphic design specialist and staff writer for the Acronym. She lives in 1503 C-Wing and enjoys sleeping, reading, and eating in her spare time.

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