On the first day of class, a student mentioned the “Chicago Bean” as something they knew about Chicago. I had never heard or seen the bean before, so I wanted to find out more.
Nicknamed “The Bean,” the structure is officially titled “Cloud Gate.” It is located in AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park. Anish Kapoor, an Indian-born British artist, beat out 30 other artists to implement the piece. The Bean, which finished construction in 2004, weighs 110 tons and is 33 feet high and 66 feet and it’s maximum height and length and is made entirely of stainless steel.
Kapoor named the structure Cloud Gate because 80% of the sculpture’s surface reflects the sky above. However, it received its nickname of “The Bean” from its kidney bean shape. What makes the structure so unique is the way in which it reflects and “captures the feel of the city,” while also involving the viewer. Cloud Gate reflects the city’s famous skyline, celebrating the economic power of the city. However, it also reflects the people and culture of the city by reflecting the people who view and pass by the structure. Just as the scene reflected on the Bean is always changing, the bustling city of Chicago is always changing due to economic, social, and cultural patterns.
Thinking about this reminded me of our discussions of the varying peoples that have historically made up Chicago. Whether it was the influx of people via the railroad that transformed Chicago into the Metropolis it is today, or German and Irish immigrants, or southern black and white migrants, Chicago has always been a diverse city formed and influenced by its people. This idea is thoroughly expressed in the way the structure physically reflects the city - a city of varying people, a rich and historical culture, and economic prowess.