Light Fantastic: A public art project created by students

Jan. 11 - Mar. 20, 2021

Seeking undergraduate designers and builders for the Light Fantastic public art design challenge during Winter Quarter!

What makes the Winter Quarter so hard at the University of Chicago is that the days are short and darkness comes early. Light Fantastic aims to illuminate – both symbolically and literally – the dark winter months. This campus-wide installation of twenty sculptures/structures/garden follies made entirely from bamboo poles and holiday lights – much like giant TinkerToys – will be designed and built by you, UChicago College students.

Working with your three- to five-person creative team and using the design kit provided, you will create a scale model of your proposal in January. Zoom design workshops will answer questions and assist in the creative process. (If you are not on campus, you may submit designs in other forms, such as photographs of physical models or CAD drawings.)

A UChicago Public Art committee will review all proposals, select winners, and choose sites for up to twenty designs, which will be built by the winners themselves with the support of professional preparators. Several of the Light Fantastic sites will be enhanced by sound installations created by the Sound Fantastic initiative.

Light Fantastic is organized by Laura Steward, Curator of Public Art, with support from the Department of Visual Arts, Smart Museum of Art, and UChicago Arts.

Light Fantastic Timeline

Gather a Creative Team of three to five UChicago friends for the challenge! For more information on and registration of Creative Teams click here

Note: Virtual teams can include any combination of students, and teams collaborating in person should adhere to the Winterfest Friend Circle guidelines.

Design kits containing balsa wood sticks, a craft knife, and glue will be available for pick up at the Logan Center and Smart Museum lobbies from 10am – 3pm each day. More information will be sent to the participating Creative Teams.

Following the instructions provided in the kit, build your model.

Zoom design workshops with curator Laura Steward will be offered on Jan. 26, Jan. 29, and Feb. 4, from 4-6 p.m CT. Check back for Zoom link!

Drop off design submissions on campus. If you are not on campus, submit your design to, with “LF design submission” in the subject line by 5 p.m. CT.

A committee of UChicago representatives will select the winning designs.

Winners will be announced February 12.

Structures will be fabricated by the team that designed them, at the assigned location, with the support of a professional preparator.

The opening and press announcement will take place February 26.

The structures will remain standing until the spring equinox on March 20, which happens also to be the beginning of Spring Break, or until they fall apart – whichever is earlier.