Call Detail
City of Chicago Aviation Artist Pool
Entry Deadline: 11/29/20
Application Closed
Work Sample Requirements
Images | Minimum:Min. 10, Maximum:Max. 10
Video | Minimum:Min. 0, Maximum:Max. 1
Total Samples | Minimum:Min. 10, Maximum:Max. 11
Call Type: Public Art
Eligibility: Local
State: Illinois


The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) invites Chicago-based professional artists and artist teams to submit qualifications for potential inclusion in Chicago’s Aviation Artist Pool.  The Aviation Artist Pool is a mechanism for selecting artists for public art opportunities at Chicago O’Hare and Midway Airports.


The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) is self-supporting, using no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O’Hare and Midway International Airports. Chicago’s airports offer service to over 260 nonstop destinations worldwide, including 47 foreign countries, combined. Together, Chicago’s airports serve more than 100 million passengers each year and generate approximately $60 billion in annual economic activity for the region.

The CDA is currently overseeing two major capital infrastructure programs at O’Hare and Midway International Airports – O’Hare 21 and the Midway Modernization Program. As these programs prepare O'Hare and Midway to take off with added capacity and modern infrastructure, they will also create new jobs and opportunities for businesses of all sizes and specialties over the next decade.


The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. 

DCASE also administers the Chicago Public Art Program, which comprises the implementation of the City’s Public Art Ordinance, as well as other publicly-funded temporary and permanent projects throughout the city, and the management of the City’s collection of more than 500 works of art exhibited in over 150 municipal facilities around the city. In 2017, during the Year of Public Art, DCASE published Chicago’s first-ever public art plan, which guides strategic development of public art throughout the City, including Chicago O’Hare and Midway Airports.


Chicago's airports have long served as a canvas for the City's public art with an emphasis on local and global interests. The City of Chicago's world-renowned Public Art Program is reflected in dozens of sculptures, paintings, murals and exhibits at Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has worked in close partnership with the Department of Aviation to site key works from our collection, commission new public art, and advise on special projects and airport activations.

Goals of Public Art in Airports:
  1. Deliver a high quality, world class art program for Chicago airports.
  2. Create a mix of cultural offerings including exhibitions, public art and site-specific performances that showcase the unique talents of artists and arts organizations.
  3. Improve the customer experience at airports by providing entertainment, beautification, visual and wayfinding opportunities through the art program.
  4. Promote Chicago as a destination for art and culture and connect visitors to the city’s vast cultural landscape.


Public art is an integral part of upcoming capital improvement projects at airports, enhancing the visitor experience and signaling passenger arrival to Chicago, a welcoming, world-class cultural destination. The Aviation Artist Pool will facilitate the creation of public art and other special commissions by identifying artists with a demonstrated history of completing large-scale, site-specific public art projects, and/or creating artworks suitable for acquisition and display in an airport facility. As commissioning or acquisition opportunities arise, the City will draw from the Aviation Artist Pool to identify artists to create proposals. 

Diversity and equity are core goals of the Aviation Artist Pool. Candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply, and to view our required qualifications as a growth opportunity. 


Project architects Muller & Muller, Ltd (M2) and HOK are leading the design of more than 350,000 square feet of new space in Terminal 5. This will be the terminal’s first major expansion since it opened in 1993 and will allow O’Hare to welcome more travelers, more comfortably. Terminal 5 currently accommodates the majority of O’Hare’s international travel, serving passengers from more than 45 countries and over 260 destinations. 

The Terminal 5 expansion is a key component of the O’Hare 21 program, a comprehensive effort by the City of Chicago and the airlines to modernize one of the world’s most-traveled airports. The Terminal 5 project will increase the terminal’s capacity by 25 percent, adding new gates and upgrading existing gate sizes to accommodate the larger aircraft increasingly used for international flights. The expansion will also enable additional redevelopment projects at O’Hare. 

*For concept renderings, please see Request for Qualifications: Chicago Aviation Artist Pool at

DCASE and CDA, along with Muller & Muller, Ltd (M2) and HOK, will partner to integrate public art into the O’Hare Terminal 5 expansion.

The following are examples of potential art opportunities in the Chicago O’Hare International Airport: Terminal 5 Public Art Project. Existing works of art may also be acquired and curated for permanent display. Commission budgets may range from $100,000 to $500,000. 

Please note that this request for qualifications is not an invitation for a new commission. Artists will be identified from the Aviation Artist Pool to develop proposals for these opportunities at a later date. 
  • Arrival Corridor: 
    • International passengers encounter the Arrival Corridor directly after deboarding airplanes.  The Arrival Corridor is composed of both existing and new segments.  There are 9 access points from international arrival gates, which enter the Arrival Corridor from the floor above.  These access points are divided into approximately 9 corridor segments which may offer focal points for artwork design and/or display.  Art in this location will offer a welcoming arrival experience and communicate a sense of place. 
    • Potential art opportunities: north and west walls and ceilings, both existing and new facility
    • Potential media: 2-dimensional applied graphics, 3-dimensional applied sculptural elements, photography, lighting, video, digital media, or other experiential media, custom-designed display systems 
  • Baggage Claim: 
    • The Baggage Claim is the area of the airport that the greatest number of travelers will experience, and it provides a first impression of Chicago for international visitors.  Art in this location will engage passengers during their wait at the baggage carousels and as they enter/leave the Baggage Claim area.
    • Potential art opportunities: northeast wall, ceilings and columns
    • Potential media: 2-dimensional applied graphics, lighting, video, photography, digital media 
  • Concourse Level Passenger Walkway: 
    • The Concourse Level Passenger Walkway connects to the terminal’s main concession center and is adjacent to passenger lounge seating. Artwork in this area will be experienced from the vantage point of passengers moving through the concourse.
    • Potential art opportunities: north and east walls
    • Potential media: applied or suspended low-relief sculptural elements; 2-dimensional applied graphics 


The Aviation Artist Pool opportunity is open to professional artists and artist teams living and/or working in Chicago, who have a demonstrated history of completing large-scale public art projects, and/or creating artworks suitable for acquisition and display in an airport facility. Candidates from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply, and to view our required qualifications as a growth opportunity.

Artist teams must include a professional lead artist, but may also include other specialists including but not limited to: commercial architects, designers, fabricators, electrical and/or audio engineers. Artist teams should have a demonstrated history of at least one year of experience working together on previous projects. 

To be considered for the Aviation Artist Pool, individual artists must meet the eligibility criteria below.  For artist teams, only the lead artist (applicant) who will be the principal must meet the eligibility criteria. 

Eligibility Criteria – Individual and Lead Artists:
  • Is a Chicagoland resident with a valid street address (no PO boxes)   
  • Is not enrolled full time in undergraduate college/university studies of any kind  
  • Is a practicing artist. This is defined as someone who:  
    • is actively creating new work  
    • has demonstrated success in the arts through the creation of high-quality work and/or contributions to the field  
    • has at least a two-year history of public presentation or publication 


Artists for this opportunity will be selected through an open request for qualifications (RFQ). A selection panel composed of project stakeholders will review artists’ applications. Selection panel participants will include CDA staff and a curatorial advisory board. DCASE staff will serve as nonvoting facilitators of the artist selection process. As noted above, the City will draw from the Aviation Artist Pool to solicit site-specific proposals as commissioning or acquisition opportunities arise.


The selection panel will assess applications based on: 
  • Complete application submitted via CaFÉ ( prior to the application deadline. 
  • Artistic excellence: Work samples represent the artist’s or artist team’s own original creative work.  Artwork demonstrates innovation; originality of concept and content; mastery of skills and techniques; professional quality of craftsmanship; professional approaches to process and presentation. 
  • Professional competence: The artist's or artist team’s professional experience is adequate to meet the demands of project opportunities as demonstrated by activities indicating a professional practice, which may include but are not limited to: specialized training in the field (not limited to academic training); previous commissions for site-specific work; exhibitions in museums, art galleries, and/or other art venues; participation in artist residency programs; and other professional activities.
  • Administrative capacity: Application demonstrates the organizational skills and resource management capabilities necessary to successfully and in a professional manner develop and deliver a commissioned artwork on time, within budget, and in compliance with all applicable codes, ordinances and contracts. This may be demonstrated by previous public art commissions, or by projects of comparable budget, scale and/or complexity.
  • The artist’s or artist team’s work is judged to be appropriate to the goals of the project.
  • The artist or artist team is available to participate in the design, approval and implementation of the project as required. 


All dates are approximate and subject to change.  Specific commission opportunities will be communicated to artists via requests for proposal.
  • Applicant Informational and Technical Support Session (via Zoom)
  • RFQ Application Deadline
    • November 29, 2020, 11:59 pm, CST
  • Selection Panel Review
    • December 2020 – January 2021
  • Approval of selected artists / artist teams by Visual Arts Committee
    • January 2021
  • Applicant notification of acceptance to Aviation Artist Pool
    • January 2021


Application is available via CaFÉ at:

Interested applicants should register with CaFÉ in order to view the application.  Deadline for submissions is November 29, 2020, 11:59pm, CST. 

Each artist or artist team must submit an entirely digital application.  Incomplete applications will not be considered. 

Applications should include:
  1. Letter of Interest
    • One (1) page maximum 
    • This should be a summary of your artistic focus and professional career, especially as your background relates to your qualifications for this opportunity. Do not make a specific proposal for a new commission.
  2. Work Samples
    • Ten (10) total images of past projects by the artist or the artist team’s lead artist(s), including:
      • Past public art projects with an emphasis on permanent large-scale and site-specific public art projects; and
      • Existing works of art that are suitable for an airport setting and available for purchase.
    • One (1) video, edited to no more than two (2) minutes in length, may also be submitted but is not required.
  3. Annotated Image List
    • An annotated image list that includes the title, media, year completed, dimensions, location (if site-specific) project budget (if applicable) timeline, and client or commissioning entity for each corresponding work sample.  
      • If a video is submitted, please include two to three (2-3) sentences to describe its context.
  4. Resume
    • A two- (2) page resume or curriculum vitae (CV).
      • If applying as an artist team, provide one resume or CV for each team member.
      • If applying as an artist team, include a list of key team members and their roles/affiliations.
  5. Proof of Residence
    • Provide a PDF copy of one of the following forms of documentation:
      • Current, valid Illinois Driver’s License (front and back sides)
      • Current, valid State of Illinois ID (front and back sides)
      • Recent utility bill in artist’s name (all pages)
    • If applying as an individual artist, proof of residence meeting the above criteria is required.
    • If applying as an artist team, proof of residence meeting the above criteria is only required for the lead artist (applicant) who will be the principal.
    • P.O. boxes will not be accepted.



For questions about the Aviation Artist Pool opportunity, contact:

For technical assistance using CaFÉ, please visit:


Application Requirements

Eligibility Criteria