Building Art

Lobby Sculpture - Dawn Shadows
Artist - Louise Nevelson

About Dawn Shadows:

Commissioned in 1982 by the building developers, Dawn Shadows was inspired by the structure and configuration of the elevated train system that gave downtown Chicago its nickname, “The Loop.” The creator, Louise Nevelson, was best known for her large wooden relief sculptures and has pieces displayed in museums all over the world. Like most of her work, this 22-ton cor-ten steel sculpture is monochromatic and responds to the complexities of urban structures. It is intended that Dawn Shadows be viewed from all sides, with one of the best vantage points being the elevated train platform just above 200 West Madison’s Lobby. Dawn Shadows prominently stands within the Lobby Cube and attracts a large audience each year. The work is honored by the City of Chicago and is included in their public art guide. To learn more about Louise Nevelson and her foundation, please visit

2016 Lobby Renovations

  • Hypnotic Field
  • Soar
  • Spring

Artists: Dan Cheetham & Michelle Tarsney

Artists' Statement:

In designing art for the lobby at 200 West Madison, we sought to create pieces that respond to the existing space, with its white marbled surfaces and the abundant natural light of the atrium, while increasing the lobby’s visibility from the exterior. Additionally, the new pieces need to complement the existing large bronze sculpture, Dawn Shadows, by Louise Nevelson.

As the pieces developed, we began to think about the four classical elements - Earth, Wind, Fire and Water - as a way to conceptualize how they might work together. Nevelson’s bronze came to represent fire. The wood sculpture, Hypnotic Field, corresponded to earth, the hanging sculpture, Soar, was inspired by wind, and the living wall, Spring, references water.

Hypnotic Field (Wall) is inspired by childhood road trips through the Midwest and the mesmerizing experience of driving along crop-lined roadways. What seemed to be a single mass is intermittently revealed as neat rows, exposing the internal organization of agricultural cultivation. In this sculpture, thirty-one vertical beams are sculpted from reclaimed Douglas fir timbers, salvaged from historic vinegar tanks at a Heinz plant in Freemont, Ohio, and stained with a vegetable based stain. Each vertical is built from smaller sections, glue-laminated to form a single beam measuring thirty-one feet tall. The vertical beams rotate relative to the wall, to heighten the sense of perspective and to simulate, at a pedestrian tempo, the experience of the fields along the highway.

Soar is a hanging sculpture comprised of colorful kite-like forms. Each element of the sculpture has a skeletal frame of solid stainless steel tubing, coupled with a lightweight fabric wing, supported by carbon fiber rods. Combined in a series, the wings evoke how birds harness the power of wind to soar and conserve energy. The lightweight, floating sculpture is a counterpoint to the solid, earthy, wood timbers of Hypnotic Fields and heavy cast bronze of Dawn Shadows.

Spring (Opposite Wall), a sculpture formed of live plant materials, references both the season and the water that brings new growth. Reminiscent of the small ledges of waterfalls which provide areas for abundant plant life, the sculpture draws nutrients and resources to flourish, resulting in a tapestry of color and texture. It is a vibrant ecosystem unique to its location, which transforms with variations in of light, perspective, and seasonal plant changes.

Dan Cheetham + Michelle Tarsney
April 2016


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