If you’re lucky, you hear the phrase every day: You are Beautiful. If you’re lucky enough to live in Andersonville, you’ll likely see it every day, too.
Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $7,312 and ended on Wednesday, March 4, four public art projects dedicated to that concept will be installed in Andersonville, a north side Chicago neighborhood, by April.
“The idea we are going after is, number one, the positivity of it, having a positive message out there on the street,” said Brian Bonanno, the sustainability programs manager for the Andersonville Development Corp. eco-Andersonville, an initiative of the development corporation, has teamed up with artist Matthew Hoffman to bring the project to Andersonville. “But really what it’s about is trying to get people to realize that there are a lot of under-utilized spaces all over the city.”
Whether they are fences, or gaps, or eyesores in commercial districts, with a little creativity, “you can fill those spaces in or activate them, and that generates points of community interaction,” Bonanno added. “It’s kind of a way of making people feel more comfortable in their urban environment.”
Hoffman, of Skokie, Illinois, began the You are Beautiful project in Chicago in 2002 with 100 stickers, according to his video.
Since then, the project has grown worldwide with both temporary and permanent installations. In Andersonville, the project will include floating texts at the corners of Clark and Winona, Ashland and Foster, Clark and Olive, as well as a smaller planned installation on the sign of what was Trumbull Elementary School at 5200 N. Ashland. eco-Andersonville also hopes to establish displays in the neighborhoods of Lawndale and Englewood.
The art pieces will be fairly large, with the letters themselves 3 to 4 feet tall each, and the bigger pieces 50 to 60 feet long. The words will be painted white and silver. The pieces will be made of either wood or plastic.
Bonanno said he saw an example of Hoffman’s work in Gary, Indiana, last winter and that he reached out to him last summer. The Kickstarter campaign started in February and lasted 30 days. Its goal was to raise $5,500 and it successfully raised $1,812 over that benchmark. The You are Beautiful signs will be hung on fences and will likely remain as long as the property owners will allow.
“I think it’s important for people in the community to support this because it gives them an opportunity to shape the neighborhood that they want to live in,” Bonnano said. “They make a community more livable and more vital.”
And livable, vital communities, by extension, raise home and condo values.
Victoria Marty has written for newspapers and magazines for more than 15 years and recently moved to the Lincoln Square, Chicago area. A frequent runner who loves learning and exploring new places, she has perfected the art of getting lost while simultaneously finding unique landmarks, boutiques and out-of-the-way nooks worth writing about. Her blogs are geared toward the newly transplanted who want to learn as much about Chicago as they can, as quickly as possible.