102 artworks for Illinois’ 102 counties

Illinois has 102 counties. Each county could have its own artwork (Idea from Phil Huckleberry in his Substack yesterday about National Illinois Day).

Here’s one off the cuff ridiculous proposal. We’ve got 102 counties, right? Let’s put 102 works of art, 1 per county, all across the state. How about artworks of 102 indigenous flora or fauna? How about the installation in Chicago be something huge and crazy like a full scale wooly mammoth at the Field Museum, where you can get maps of the other 101 scattered across the state? Obviously you’d have to put a white squirrel in Olney, but everywhere else is fair game, right?

Or do something berserk and construct a wooden thimble rack in the shape of the state, with slots for 102 thimbles. As I write this paragraph, I realize this is probably the greatest idea I have ever had. Each thimble will only be available in its respective county, and will feature the county name, some nature thing the locals like, and some pithy statement about how wonderful the county is. Moultrie County: Never thought you’d wind up here, did you?

But how about if each county had its own artwork that could combine with all the other counties artwork assemble together. Like a Devastator or Computron.

Although those were usually five Transformers combining into one. Here we are talking about 102 combining into one. Which, come to think of it. Why aren’t there any combiners with 102 Transformers? Illinoisitron can be the first one!

Ok, let’s take the flora flauna idea and have ChatGPT come up with some examples:

Example Flora and Fauna for Select Counties

  1. Cook County: White Oak (state tree of Illinois), indicative of the region’s forests.
  2. DuPage County: Purple Coneflower, a native prairie plant.
  3. Lake County: Lake Sturgeon, representing Lake Michigan’s fauna.
  4. Will County: Big Bluestem, a grass typical of the Illinois prairie.
  5. Kane County: Bur Oak, a tree species common in the area’s woodlands.
  6. McHenry County: Prairie Trillium, a flower found in Illinois’ woodlands.
  7. Winnebago County: Wild Turkey, symbolizing the county’s wildlife.
  8. Madison County: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, a butterfly native to Illinois.
  9. St. Clair County: Bald Cypress, found in wetlands along the Mississippi.
  10. Sangamon County (Springfield): American Goldfinch (state bird of Illinois), often seen in the region.

ChatGPT didn’t bother doing all 102. Maybe someday I’ll try to force it to generate a unique item for each county.

I asked ChatGPT to come up with an artist for each county

Example Artists for Select Counties

  1. Cook County (Chicago): Theaster Gates, known for his work in urban planning and redevelopment.
  2. DuPage County: Lorado Taft, a historical sculptor, to reflect the county’s blend of history and modernity.
  3. Lake County: Richard Hunt, a modern sculptor with ties to the Chicago area, could represent the county’s proximity to Lake Michigan.
  4. Will County: Amanda Williams, a visual artist focusing on color and urban space, to represent the county’s diverse landscapes.
  5. Kane County: Ellen Lanyon, known for her fantastical and historical paintings, could capture the Fox River’s influence.
  6. McHenry County: Manuel Bromberg, a muralist and painter, to depict the county’s rural beauty.
  7. Winnebago County (Rockford): Jenny Mathews, an illustrator and muralist from Rockford, capturing local spirit.
  8. Madison County: Preston Jackson, a contemporary sculptor and painter, reflecting the industrial heritage.
  9. St. Clair County: Katherine Dunham, a dancer and choreographer, to capture the cultural diversity.
  10. Sangamon County (Springfield): Felicia Olin, a Springfield-based painter known for her whimsical and emotive style.

Sometimes it picked an artist from that county. Other times, it picked one that would be good at depicting the county. I didn’t really get much value from this artist list, because you aren’t going to commission 102 artists for this project—especially the dead ones like Lorado Taft (1860-1936). I guess it’s just kinda fun seeing what artist gets picked for your county.

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