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CHICAGO—Navy Pier is honored to host famed artist Derrick Adams’ Funtime Unicorn beginning Thursday, April 13, in Polk Bros Park. Presented in partnership with the 10th anniversary edition of EXPO CHICAGO, taking place in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall April 13–16, Funtime Unicorn is a continuation of Adams’ focus on play and leisure in the Black community. Funtime Unicorn brings to life not only the imagery Adams is known for, but also the real-life experiences his paintings encapsulate. The installation is part of EXPO CHICAGO’s annual IN/SITU Outside program, which presents public art installations from artists represented by 2023 exhibitors along the lakefront and throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Each unicorn sculpture in the edition is a manifestation of Adams’ signature iconography —a visual vocabulary of recognizable objects, symbols, bold colors, and shapes, recontextualized to depict leisure in an unprecedented way. There will be four sculptures in the public installation at Navy Pier.
The edition draws from Adams’ Floaters series —a suite of vivid portraits of Black people in various states of rest and play. Seated atop colorful unicorns or candy-shaped plastic floaties popularized in recent years, the figures represent an expanded cultural imagination of a Black lived experience. Funtime Unicorn provides a new way for the audience to engage with the emotions evoked by Adams’ paintings, and an exciting new addition to his series of public artworks.
“In each one of these sculptures, my hope is that young Black boys and girls have a chance to laugh and bounce, climb and lean,” Adams said. “This is a place to make new friends – who are just as magical and colorful and who represent a more imaginative future for all of us,” said Derrick Adams.
First unveiled to the public with the support of the Art Production Fund at New York’s Rockefeller Center in the summer of 2022, visitors to the installation were able to play on Funtime Unicorn, embodying the experience of joy evoked by Adams’ paintings. Now guests and locals of Chicagoland will be offered the same experience at Navy Pier.
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Note: All events, activities and dates are subject to change.
ABOUT NAVY PIER
Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is the top nonprofit tourism destination in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and typically welcoming nearly 9 million annual guests. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more. The Pier celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016 with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial Wheel, Polk Bros Park, Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2021, Navy Pier continued to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts—including Sable, a 223-room Hilton hotel, new restaurants and partnerships, and thrilling additions to Pier Park. The Pier is also proud to continue providing free, year-round arts and cultural programming designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Click here to donate to Navy Pier, a mission-driven 501(c)(3) organization, in support of the organization’s post-pandemic revival and free public programming. For more information, visit navypier.org.
ABOUT DERRICK ADAMS
Derrick Adams is a Baltimore-born, Brooklyn, New York-based artist whose critically acclaimed work spans painting, collage, sculpture, performance, video, and sound installations. Adams is known for creating art and innovative collaborations with celebrities like Alicia Keys, Swizz Beatz, Jay-Z and more. His multidisciplinary practice engages the ways in which individuals’ ideals, aspirations, and personas become attached to specific objects, colors, textures, symbols, and ideologies. His work probes the influence of popular culture on the formation of self-image, and the relationship between man and monument as they coexist and embody one another. Adams is also deeply immersed in questions of how African American experiences intersect with art history, American iconography, and consumerism. Adams received his MFA from Columbia University and BFA from Pratt Institute. He is an alumnus of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Studio Program. For more information, visit derrickadams.com.
ABOUT EXPO CHICAGO
EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art features leading international galleries alongside a leading platform for contemporary art and cultural programming. Hosted within historic Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, EXPO CHICAGO presents a diverse and inventive program, including /Dialogues (presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Exchange by Northern Trust: An Interactive Conversation Around the Art of Collecting, unrivaled talks programs for both public and VIP audiences; IN/SITU, dynamic on-site installations highlighting large-scale sculpture, film, and site-specific work; and major public art initiatives, including IN/SITU Outside, public art installed throughout Chicago Park District locations, and OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project, a curated selection of international artists throughout the city’s digital billboard network. The EXPO CHICAGO program also features an unprecedented commitment to host curatorial initiatives during the exposition, including the Curatorial Forum in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI), and the Curatorial Exchange, which partners with foreign agencies and consulates to expand the exposition’s global reach EXPO CHICAGO is presented by Art Expositions, LLC. Under the leadership of President and Director Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO draws upon the city’s rich history as a vibrant international cultural destination, while highlighting the region’s contemporary arts community and inspiring its collector base. For more information on EXPO CHICAGO, visit expochicago.com.