If you’ve walked down State Street at all this summer, you’ve seen the sunshine yellow signs on lamp posts, newspaper boxes, and the large mural at State and Washington Streets (above Old Navy), blaring “GO DO GOOD” in black lettering. What’s it all mean?
The work of artist Kay Rosen, GO DO GOOD is the latest installation commissioned by the Chicago Loop Alliance, which brought Tony Tasset’s giant sculpture, Eye, to Pritzker Park last summer. While many works of art don’t have immediately obvious meanings, with GO DO GOOD, the meaning is obvious and it’s less apparent that the installation is a work of art at all. The ubiquity of the signs calls to mind corporate advertising, and the bare-bones aspect makes them seem like a teaser for an upcoming film or event.
GO DO GOOD is part of a citywide campaign to help Chicago’s kids succeed in school. The Loop Alliance, along with the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, is encouraging city residents to help local students and give back to the community this summer. June activities focused on getting kids to read and included a book drive, July focuses on improving nutrition with a food drive, and the August program will get kids ready to head back to school by holding a drive for school supplies.
A website (godogoodchicago.com) that launched around the project suggests ways people can give back to the community, from volunteering to be a coach to thanking a bus driver. People can alert the program to good deeds they’ve completed via Twitter or Facebook. The goal is to amass 100,000 good deeds over the summer, and a physical barometer of the city’s progress can be found on State Street between Madison and Washington.
The Indiana-based Rosen frequently uses letters and language in her artwork, and often does large, public installations. She uses language to form images, and she said in a statement that she hopes the audience of her most recent work will “experience it in three ways: seeing what at first looks like abstract shapes; reading and creating meaning from the eight letters that make up GO DO GOOD; and performance—acting out the message with good deeds and gestures, large and small, public and private, on a daily basis.”
All art has a greater meaning than its visual component, so it makes sense that the aim of GO DO GOOD is to have art inspire action. It’s the action itself, spurred by an online group of do-gooders, that’s the beautiful thing. The signs? They’re just there as a reminder to Chicago residents that we’re part of a greater community.