Travelers at O’Hare Airport’s Multi-Modal Facility in Chicago—an expansive parking structure that connects all of the airport’s ground transportation—are now treated to a large-scale, collaborative artwork by Hank Willis Thomas (previously) and Coby Kennedy as they move through a lofty atrium. Emerging from the walls of an escalator hall and measuring approximately 27 and 31 feet long, enormous arms extend across the space as if just about to clasp hands. Titled “REACH,” the piece takes cues from its site in a busy transportation hub, reframing a transitory space into a reminder of togetherness and connectivity.
“‘REACH’ is a connection point and large-scale gesture that inspires us to come together,” says Thomas, whose sculptures have often incorporated hands and arms in symbolic positons such as embraces, the Black Power fist, or hands-up defensive signals that evoke historical events and activism. The work is the newest of O’Hare’s major public art installations, which among many others includes “Palimpsest,” Nick Cave’s multi-story beaded tapestry installed in 2019 in another part of the same building.
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