New Elgin public art program using storm drains as canvas

A new public art campaign in Elgin circles the drain, but in a good way.

The Elgin Cultural Arts Commission announced a call for art on a new canvas – storm surges. The commission said it is looking for pictures and messages to raise awareness of rainwater and storm sewers as part of its New Works program.

Selected works of art will be applied to up to 40 drainage systems across the city.

“We want to make art in public spaces as accessible as possible,” said city administrator’s assistant Amanda Harris, who also acts as the city’s liaison to the ECAC.

“We’re becoming a very sustainability-conscious community, so I thought Storm Drain Art would be a great opportunity to advance these two goals.”

Two applications are accepted – one for artist contributions and one for residents who would like to have their storm drain removed.

Artists interested in having their artwork in storm sewers can apply at Applications are open to artists of all levels worldwide, with Elgin artists being preferred. There is no limit to the number of applications that can be submitted. Select artists receive a fee of up to $ 500.

Residents who want to see storm runoff in their neighborhood can apply at Selected applicants will be provided with a template for the winning artwork, color, and installation instructions. To support the project, at least three neighbors in the area of ​​the storm drain must be listed in the application.

Neighborhood applications are continuously accepted in the summer. There is no fixed deadline for submitting artists. Harris said she expected the installation to begin in the summer. The painted storm drains are listed on the city’s online public art map at

Harris said she was always on the lookout for new public art ideas from around the country that could work in Elgin.

“I want residents and business owners here to feel like they have the opportunity to make a difference in public art in their neighborhood, and it’s not like some big, fancy artists are out of town and something have to do, “she said.

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