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Free Transfer (2005)

Project Description:
- Artist: Carolyn Elaine and Sonata Kazimieraitis
Participants: Eleven high school/college students, one assistant and various community volunteers, Oak Park IL.
Sponsorship: Oak Park Arts Council, Chicago Public Art Group

- 400 sq. ft. Broken Tile/ Briolague with Clay Relief-Exterior Installation


This was the first attempt of the Oak Park Arts Council, to implement a “Gallery 37 type program” in the Village of Oak Park. The Master artist, Carolyn Elaine and Sonata Kazimieraitis, were expected to lead a group of eleven apprentices and one assistant in the design and creation of a bricolague mural to be installed on the wall of Terra Incognito, a ceramics studio located at 246 Chicago Avenue.


Although Elaine and Kazimieraitis had never worked together, both were excited about the opportunity. Each brought their unique style and technical skills to the table and established a work style which resulted in an extraordinary mural and a desire to work together on future projects.


Design Narrative: Most of the apprentices agreed that Oak Park becomes a very boring place after you reach the teenage years. Although they seem to appreciate the many positive attributes of their Urban Suburb, which they listed as; open, diverse, very liberal and family oriented, they felt the “small town” feel that it provides becomes suffocating once you hit puberty. Despite Oak Park's appreciation for the arts, they seemed to be more excited about its proximity to the City of Chicago and the realm of possibilities that await them as artist outside of their home town.


Free Transfer is a 135 square foot bricolage of broken tile, mirror and sculpted clay artworks. The words EXPLORE, RISE and EXPRESS are highlighted but the mural includes many other verbs such as; discover, reveal, exhibit, think and agitate to list a few. Verbs were selected to provoke movement, both physically and mentally. By varying the size of the individual words the viewer is drawn into the artwork and enticed to not only read it, but observe the many hidden details. There are also arousing messages scattered throughout the mural which encourage a transformation of traditional thinking. Messages such as “Be who you want to be”, “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” and “Test your limits”. The messages challenge the viewer to look beyond the beauty of the finished artwork and appreciate the content as well. The apprentices felt that every teenager should be given a Free Transfer to leave the land of the familiar and venture out into the world to Explore, Express and Rise to their own limitless potential.


The Train in the mural symbolizes the cultural and artistic connections to the City of Chicago (which is depicted in the form of a high-rise cityscape).


The Eye represents the various artistic perspectives of both the viewer as well as the individual apprentices who contributed to the mural.


The Bubbles reflect artistic freedom. Each apprentice created a clay piece which didn’t necessarily have any relevance to the content of the mural. These were randomly placed in the mural as floating artistic bubbles of expression.


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