This content was created in partnership with Levi’s®
If the Chicago stop on Station To Station, a public art project made possible by Levi’s®, is any indication of how the rest of the tour will go, then the event will not merely entertain but invigorate the creative minds of thousands across this country.
Set up in Chicago’s historic Union Station, the happening took place in its Great Hall, a massive room with a 110-foot-high ceiling, and was the perfect place to execute the transcontinental art project.
Upon arrival into the Great Hall, you could immediately dive into five different art structures, or “yurts.” The two Levi’s®-created structures were the Levi’s® Makers Yurt (which had people sewing patches on clothes, constructing quilts, and actually making textiles on a vintage loom) and the Levi’s® ICONS Yurt (a sort of museum to Levi’s® past and present). Then there were the three Nomadic Art Structures that you could wander through and engage with. There was a pitch-black maze-like tent constructed by Liz Glynn, a white and smoky disco-ball-room with mirror walls and a big fluffy bed to fool around on by Urs Fischer, and a bizarre yellow and orange room with a nylon floor you could shoelessly bounce on by Ernesto Neto. The rooms encouraged people to invent what was fun or interesting about them, putting the power of the artist into their hands, as is Levi’s® with their #MakeOurMark digital campaign. I saw a little kid crawling around UNDER the nylon floor of the yellow tent, his giggling face pushing through the mesh like a hilarious nightmare.
Then the performances began. The first act was shoegaze-punk act No Age from Los Angeles, who created a soundscape that made use of the room’s echo-y acoustics. As No Age’s last notes reverberated, the Rich South High School marching band and color guard team began on the Hall’s balcony … followed immediately by thrashy Chicago garage band White Mystery, who matched the beat to seamlessly move into their fast-paced set. By now, you realized the whole experience was going to be this kind of endless tumbling forward, without stopping, like the literal train this tour is taking across America.
After sets by Thurston Moore and John Moloney (playing as Caught On Tape), Theaster Gates’s Black Monks Of Mississippi, former American Idol contestant Kiara Lanier, and Chicago experimental hip-hop singer-poet + (pronounced “plus sign”), came Chicago royalty and American treasure Mavis Staples and her band, who brought a smile to everybody’s face that lasted the duration of the event.
As the evening of film and music unfolded, you became increasingly empowered to create alongside everyone else. You became that little kid again, tumbling along in the dark, propelled by a primal wonder. People were getting up on the platforms set up in the audience to dance and sing, others started playing an impromptu hand clapping game that they lit with cell phone lights. At one point during a vocal performance on a balcony, a security guard told me, “You know, you can go hang out right next to them.” There were far less restrictions than I’m used to in so-called adulthood.
Levi’s® is very interested that everyone feel the artistic empowerment of their STS events even if they weren’t able to attend. They’ve set up a digital hub (levi.com/makeourmark) to which you can bring your own creative sense of play and be inspired by that of others, and by including the hashtag #MakeOurMark, you’re able to make your creative contribution part of the larger collaborative art project. The live event was just an introduction to a new invigorating way to reshape and restructure the way we look at our realities. Now we can make that creative spirit a way of life.