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O’Hare Terminal 5 Public Art Project Nears Completion

DCASE and CDA unveil first look at newly installed public artworks at O’Hare Terminal 5—the $3.5 million commission is the city’s largest single acquisition by Chicago artists

By Todd R. Berger

10.9.23 Artist jina valentine with O'Hare Terminal 5 art
Artist jina valentine with her piece “… a murmuration” at O’Hare International Airport Terminal 5 | Credit Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

This month visitors arriving and departing from O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 5 will begin to see an extraordinary new public art collection as installation of several works by more than 20 Chicago artists is completed. The $3.5 million public art commission, led by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA), is the city’s largest single acquisition of works by Chicago artists in the last 30 years.

“Public art tells the story of our city—its beauty, its resilience, the soul of Chicago,” says Mayor Brandon Johnson. “We’re proud to share Chicago’s story and the power of the arts with visitors from across the globe—at O’Hare and in diverse communities across this great city. This is the kind of innovative and unique opportunity that can help continue to bolster and support our public arts scene in Chicago and beyond.”

A dedication event with the artists and city officials will take place in the coming months, and airport professionals are enjoying tours of the extensive O’Hare Terminal 5 commission this week as Chicago plays host to the annual Arts in the Airport conference organized by the American Association of Airport Executives.

“For millions of passengers, O’Hare Terminal 5 is their first impression of not only Chicago, but our entire country—and there is no better way to showcase the essence, the diversity, and the beauty of Chicago than through the arts,” says Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee. “I thank Mayor Johnson, [DCASE] Commissioner [Erin] Harkey, and the diverse and creative artists for their dedication to this commission, and I look forward to building upon this successful public art program as work begins on our core passenger facilities through O’Hare 21.”

“The recently completed artworks at O’Hare Terminal 5 reflect the immense talent and creativity present in Chicago’s artists and cultural communities,” shares DCASE Commissioner Harkey. “The public art in O’Hare Terminal 5 joins recently completed artworks in the airport’s Multi-Modal Facility and adds to Chicago’s more than 500-piece Public Art Collection on display throughout the city’s 77 neighborhoods.”

“DCASE’s collaboration with CDA on the $3.5 million public art commission is one of more than 60 new art projects and collaborations currently taking place in neighborhoods throughout Chicago,” notes DCASE Director of Public Art Jimmy Castillo. “Community engagement is the cornerstone of the city’s public art program, which enriches the lives of all Chicagoans and is a critical investment in Chicago’s creative economy.”