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postcards to chicago new public art project 1

Jun. 26, 2020

Navy Pier Introduces Postcards to Chicago, New Public Art Project to Grace the Pier’s North Dock Wall This July

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CHICAGO – Navy Pier is adding a splash of color to its North Dock wall with the installation of a vibrant new mural, Postcards to Chicago, which will bring alive the Pier’s iconic colors and symbols to enhance the guest experience, offer elegance to the entrance of the Pier and provide meaningful and accessible public art to Chicagoans and guests, alike. Installation begins today, Tuesday, June 23, and is anticipated for completion by early July. This work is the start of an ongoing public art program for the Pier and the first is being commissioned by the Design Museum of Chicago. This new art installation coincides with the recent phased reopening of Navy Pier as a visual way to welcome Chicagoans back to the iconic cultural destination.

This privately-funded new public artwork, to be completed in two weeks, is centered on representational forms of four Navy Pier icons: the USS Chicago, Lake Michigan, the Centennial Wheel, and the Wave Wall staircase. Each of Navy Pier’s four icons were documented by a talented group of photography students from Harry S Truman College (City Colleges of Chicago), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Students worked collaboratively, and without art direction, to capture four still black-and-white images. Each photograph was then integrated prominently within the overall design, providing context for the artwork while amplifying student voices. The color palette utilizes shades of blue, magenta, and green from Navy Pier’s Lake Michigan, fireworks show and green spaces, respectively.

Color 4, a local full-service pre-media company, assisted the Design Museum of Chicago with the project overseeing the art installation, including art file preparation, printing, hardware and installation support.

“Navy Pier is a great institution within Chicago and celebrating it with only four icons was a real challenge for our team of designers and student photographers,” said Tanner Woodford, founder and executive director of the Design Museum of Chicago. “Ultimately, these simple lines, colossal shapes and vibrant colors are a gift to visitors of Navy Pier and the people of Chicago, and we hope it brings happiness to each viewer.”

Of the seven student photographers who contributed to the project, five are students of color, including Alayna Pernell, a student photographer from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Black and white photography has always had a special place in my heart and is still present in my own work to this day,” said Alayna Pernell, a student photographer from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “Being granted the opportunity to have photographed the beautiful architecture at Navy Pier in the photographic language that’s near and dear to my heart was nothing short of a pleasure. I am grateful to The Design Museum of Chicago and Navy Pier for allowing me to be a part of this meaningful public art project.”

Contributing schools and students of each icon are as follows:

USS Chicago Anchor & Centennial Wheel: Harry S Truman College, City Colleges of Chicago (Photographers: Victoria Marty, Daniel Reyes, Mayra Cruz-Mendoza, Marco Tecua, Marilyn Ramirez; Teacher: Jaclyn Silverman)
Lake Michigan: University of Illinois at Chicago (Photographer: Mark Paul, Teacher: Sara Condo)
Wave Wall Stair: School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Photographer: Alayna N. Pernell, Teacher: Oliver Sann)

“Navy Pier is thrilled to launch this new public art project that builds on the Pier’s growing cultural programming identity and highlights the creative work of local students,” said Michelle T. Boone, Navy Pier’s Chief Program and Civic Engagement Officer. “As the People’s Pier, it was important to us to extend this opportunity to the young talent of our city and provide such a unique canvas for artistic expression.”

Postcards to Chicago has been generously supported by Virginia and Norman Bobins, The Robert Thomas Bobins Foundation; Jim and Ann Nicholson; and the Linda & Richard Price Family Fund.

Postcards to Chicago is part of Navy Pier’s free, year-round arts and culture programming, designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe. Navy Pier began its phased reopening on Wednesday, June 10. Please click here to view Navy Pier’s full and detailed reopening plan. For more information, visit

PHOTOS: Postcards to Chicago at Navy Pier | Credit: Design Museum of Chicago

About the Design Museum of Chicago
The Design Museum of Chicago educates, inspires and fosters innovation through design. Design is more than a powerful source of inspiration. It is an integral tool that connects communities and creates equity. Through free, short-term exhibitions, engaging public programming, and robust partnerships with other arts, academic, and non-profit organizations, the Design Museum of Chicago contextualizes and humanizes design’s influence in everyday life. Like art, science, and the humanities, design surrounds us. It impacts our worlds deeply, affecting everything from our quality of life to our interactions with our neighbors. Bringing design to a relatable, human level allows us all to better understand the power of design and to utilize that power to fundamentally improve the human condition.

About Color 4
Color 4, LLC, is a full service pre-media company specializing in image retouching, large format and facility graphics.

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 welcoming nearly 9 million guests annually. 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 recently celebrated its 100th anniversary with the unveiling of the iconic Centennial WheelPolk Bros ParkFifth Third Bank Family Pavilion and Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion. In 2020, Navy Pier continues to usher in its second century with ongoing Pier-wide redevelopment efforts – including a 220-room Hilton hotel with a year-round rooftop bar, Offshore (now open), and more – in addition to 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 free public programs. For more information, visit

Navy Pier Mission Statement

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

About Navy Pier

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million guests have come to enjoy the Pier’s 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. In 2022, Navy Pier continues to evolve into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.


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