Before Hyde Park Art Center existed on its current site, the location was inhabited by the Chicago Beach Hotel (1892-1927). The grand estate was built to host travelers for the 1893 Columbian Exposition and was said to contain land “enhanced” or fabricated by the developer after dredging sand from Lake Michigan, dumping it on shore, and claiming it. Bricks from the turreted hotel were unearthed during the remodeling of the Art Center’s building in 2006, breathing new life into this Chicago lore.
Inspired by this history of the Art Center’s location, fiber artist Karen Reimer made a site-specific large-scale installation of fabric and sand to distort our perception of the horizon much like the disappearance of lake into land over a century ago. Over 200 yards of hand-dyed indigo fabric divides the gallery into parts not visible at once. From the gallery floor, the fabric resembles a stylized sky overhead. The experience of the same fabric from atop the Jackman Goldwasser Catwalk turns sky into an ascending wave of water on the cusp of washing over our feet. Far off in the distance, an image of the hotel hovers on the horizon line and displaces the original site of the hotel yet again, as if history is repeating itself. The installation conflates time and space, where directions are reversed (water hangs over air) and present experiences are based on a location’s architectural past.