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JeeYeun Lee's Chicago Lakefront Walking Tours Inform and Challenge Meaning of "Public Land"

August 21st, 2023

JeeYeun lee. Lou Foglia for Chicago Tribune/TNS

Interdisciplinary artist JeeYeun Lee’s (MFA Fiber 2018) walking tours along Lake Michigan in Chicago, IL are part education, part performance art, and part activism. An article from LimaOhio.com explores the tour experience and Lee’s inspirations. The main part of the tour consists of audio telling stories of the area’s indigenous people, including messages from elders, Indigenous songs, readings of legislation, and details about broken treaties.

The walking tour series, called “Shore Land” follows up on themes Lee explored in her “Whose Lake” project, in which she walked the lakefront leaving a trail of red sand.

With “Shore Land” and her other previous projects, Lee hopes to further awareness of the historical treatment of the Potawatomi that led to the area being ceded to Chicago, and its current existence as ‘public land.’

Of her work she says, “But it’s also not activism in the traditional way, organizing people to have a direct impact. But then, a lot of things contribute to the way we can change a society. A lot of it are the stories we have in our minds about the world and why the world is the way it is and who gets to do what.

“Chicago doesn’t think about the fact we are occupying land of people who lived here. My project isn’t, ‘Give back land.’ I see it as a progression of knowledge. Art and activism — social practice art, whatever you want to call it — contributes to changing all this, even in a small way.”


Learn more:

Artists’s walking tours tell a different story about Chicago – LimaOhio.com

JeeYeun Lee and Pheobe Kuo Receive Propeller Fund Grant

Fiber at Cranbrook Academy of Art