Sweet Water Featured at The Taste of Chicago

SWF at the Taste of Chicago

Every summer since 1980, thousands of people flock to the City of Chicago for five days of mouthwatering food, music, and family activities at the Taste of Chicago.  This year, from July 11 - 15, the 38th Annual Taste of Chicago not only highlighted Chicago’s culinary excellence, but also invited select artists to display their work at the Artist Garden, an oasis where Taste visitors are able to breakaway from the crowds to interact with and learn from artists’ work. Sweet Water Foundation's Executive Director, Emmanuel Pratt, was one of four artists selected to bring their work to life at The Taste.

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Using SWF Fractals to Designate Space at the Taste

Sweet Water Foundation was asked to bring both art + function to the Taste of Chicago Artist Garden by making and displaying fractals, tables, and benches. In the weeks leading up to The Taste, Sweet Water apprentices and mentors spent hours preparing the  art installation in the alley (which extends SWF's workshop + classroom space in summer) next to the house. The fractals were, then, used to claim space in the Artist Garden, representing a journey, from an alley on the South Side to the lush green grasses of Grant Park. The installation of fractals at the Artist Garden is representative of SWF’s practice of regenerative neighborhood development, demonstrating how design and art have found a way to bloom in what is otherwise categorized as a “blighted” community. Sweet Water’s display of innovative and skilled carpentry represents the unlimited potential hidden in forgotten neighborhoods, and speaks volumes about the power of a self-determined people.

Over the course of five days, an estimated 1.5 million people experienced the Taste of Chicago. Tens of thousands of those visitors were exposed to the Artist Garden and the work of Apprentices and Mentors at Sweet Water Foundation. The garden was transformed to a place where visitors could sit down, relax, share stories, and reflect amidst the hustle and bustle of the city and The Taste.  The fractals, benches, and tables exposed visitors to the powerful narrative of Sweet Water Foundation and showed visitors the simplicity of transforming waste to beautiful pieces of art.

History of Fractals

In 2016, SWF began the process of designing and building fractals. Fractals are multi-functional objects used to claim space using reclaimed “waste” materials. They are seats, tables, gardens, storage spaces, and pieces of art. More importantly, they are are used to claim space. Sweet Water Foundation exists in a community that was meant to be erased, yet was brought back to life with the help of local residents, partners, and the SWF family. Now, SWF is a thriving ecosystem nestled within a place of disinvestment, vacancies, and erasure . SWF operates various spaces on  4 contiguous city blocks, each space designed to tell a story and claim space. Fractals are one example of a designed object that is used at The Commons to claim and designate space. Fractals are placed in spaces that were once empty and unused, transforming vacant spaces into productive spaces.

Courtney Hug