In 2010, I received a public art commission from the Inkijk Galerie (Netherlands) to create a public artwork for the Wibautstraat subway station in Amsterdam. I was approached by curator Jan Theun Van Rees to create a piece that would draw a connection between the city of Amsterdam and my adopted home of Chicago. Having never been to Amsterdam, my biggest impression of it was based on Albert Camus’ novel, The Fall, which takes place there. I decided to base my piece on the following quote:
“The Zuider Zee is a dead sea, or almost. With its flat shores, lost in the fog, there’s no saying where it begins or ends. So we are steaming along without any landmark; we can’t gauge our speed. We are making progress and yet nothing is changing. It’s not navigation but dreaming.”
This description evoked images of the vast shores of Lake Michigan as well as the famous Chicago fog. Using the Lake as a stand-in for the Zuider Zee, I made a photograph, and then printed the negative on two eight-foot by eight-foot pieces of fabric using liquid emulsion to replicate the rippling of water. I hand painted the text on the surface of one of the prints and cut the second one in half to hang as four-foot panels on either side of the central piece. The final installation was hung from the ceiling in an arch to create a three-dimensional installation and remained on display for a period of three months.