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In the News: Hebru Brantley Selected as Chicago Ideas Week 2013 Artist In Residence

“The Watch,” Brantley’s 16-Figure Sculpture Installation, Currently on View
in Chicago's Pioneer Court Plaza, 401 N. Michigan Avenue

Hebru Brantley Banner

Hebru Brantley, Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) 2013 Artist in Residence, has created “The Watch,” a sculpture installation representing the troubles and triumphs local students face in the Chicago neighborhoods they call home. The 16-figure sculpture, inspired by conversations with students from Chicago Public High Schools who are part of the CIW YOU(th) program, re-envisions Brantley’s original characters to enliven the public space while stimulating community revitalization and national dialogue about the obstacles facing today’s youth. “The Watch” is currently on view in Pioneer Court Plaza at 401 N. Michigan Avenue, outside of  Chicago Ideas Week HQ.

The Watch by Hebru Brantley

Comprised of 16 child superheroes, the goggle-wearing sculptures in “The Watch” pay homage to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces who fought in World War II. Fly Boy and Fly Girl (also known as Lil’ Mama) are Brantley’s original protagonists, frequently appearing in his comic and street art-inspired paintings and sculptures. Transformed by the goggles into bold and brave protectors on watch for danger, Fly Boy and Fly Girl have risen above their hardships and serve as aspirational figures for all of us, as they seek to spawn positive changes in the urban environment.

“When given the opportunity to work with the Chicago Ideas Week, I knew I wanted to focus on a project that celebrates an unrepresented youth culture and speak to a diverse audience,” said Brantley. “It is my goal that this piece, and all of my artwork, provoke discourse, generating conversations in a public context that will counter media stereotypes and spur transformation and growth within individuals and in the larger communities in Chicago and beyond.”

The CIW Artist in Residence program, generously underwritten by Nancy and Steve Crown, is designed to engage and expose the city of Chicago to emerging local artists through the creation of an extraordinary installation that coincides with Chicago Ideas Week, which brings together hundreds of the world’s brightest thought leaders to inspire, connect and activate the city of Chicago and beyond. The art installation aims to draw on and intensify the impact of existing CIW programs that center around sparking ideas and connections, solving social issues and empowering the city’s youth to become future leaders.

Additional CIW Artist in Residence programming includes:

Hebru Brantley: Mind Mapping
Monday, October 14
2:00PM - 4:00PM
401 North Michigan Avenue
Grades 10-12

Explore the idea of "self" with local Chicago artist, Hebru Brantley. From cartoons to community, Warhol to Basquiat, Hebru shares his journey and personal inspirations with the CIW YOU(th) participants. Alongside Hebru's work with a variety of surfaces and media, students will explore their own unique creative processes.

Creative Process: A Method to the Madness
Sunday, October 20
12:00PM - 1:30PM
Presented by Leo Burnett
Edlis Neeson Theater at the Museum of Contemporary Art

There is a unique process behind every beautiful performance, nostalgic ballad, complex production and breathtaking work of art. From innate moments of inspiration to the dark days of creative block, visionaries spanning many genres unlock the secrets to their artistic success. This discussion includes commentary from Hebru Brantley, CIW Artist in Residence; Tracy Letts, Pulitzer Prize winning writer and Tony Award-Winning Actor & Writer; Jenn Rogien, Costume Designer for HBO's "GIRLS" & Netflix's "Orange Is The New Black;" Dan Ariely, Professor at Duke University; Danny Forster, TV Host of the Science Channel's "Build It Bigger;” and Mario Batali, critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur.

About Hebru Brantley

Hebru Brantley’s art explores personal and cultural memory, taking themes from his 1980s upbringing and characters of his own creation. Brantley’s playful aesthetic, often highlighting social issues, explores the optimism and possibilities of youth. His work draws from an array of influences, including pop culture icons, comic book heroes, Japanese anime and street art pioneers Jean Michel Basquiat, Kaws and Keith Haring. Brantley has exhibited widely and has received commissions for art projects around the world.

For more information, visit Follow Hebru on Twitter and Instagram @hebrubrantley.

About Chicago Ideas Week

Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) is a premier annual gathering of global thought leaders and passionate participants that was created to help great ideas become reality. It’s a platform for innovators, thinkers, doers and interested citizens from across Chicago and the world. CIW's goal is to stimulate new initiatives and ventures, create new connections and collaborations and establish a community of people with the desire to achieve great things.

For more information, please visit, our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter via @chicagoideas. For more information about the Artist in Residence program, visit

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