FIGMENT Brings Civic-Minded, Arts-Hungry Chicagoans Together in Jefferson Park

FIGMENT returns to Chicago for a free, participatory, family-friendly art experience converging at Jefferson Memorial Park, August 16-17, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Produced in partnership with Chicago Park District, the not-for-profit FIGMENT will convert the Northwest Side green space into a large-scale collaborative artwork – and then it’s gone.

The 2013 event drew 4,000 people to Garfield Park Conservatory, and included 52 art projects, more than 150 artists and performers, and a volunteer staff of 125. This year, doers and experimenters of all ages again come together to promote creativity, spontaneity and dynamic interactivity. Weekend adventurers to Jefferson Park can participate directly with live art, music, drawing, huggers, bubbles and dance.

FIGMENT is a blank canvas inspiring people to think differently and affect social change. It’s also a temporary home for popular installations making their way around to art communities worldwide. FIGMENT, which also takes place in 2014 in 10 other North American cities and Australia, is the intersection point of art, fun and activism. As FIGMENT partners for the first time with the 45th Ward, the global grassroots entity continues its legacy of harnessing the talents of individuals, partners and families in the spirit of artistic collaboration.

Local artist-activist couple Hannah Aubry and Rohan Thadani are affiliated with the chaotic, yet increasingly civic-minded and successful, CHIditarod. They’re also the leads on last year’s politically forward-thinking Bring Your Bag Chicago, created initially at FIGMENT. “At FIGMENT, I saw Bring Your Bag manifest itself as a movement and a force for change. And then soon after, the plastic bag ban actually happened,”  says Thadani, referring to the partial ban passed by the City Council going into effect August 2015. “Bring Your Bag showed art as a catalyst, shining a spotlight on an issue and raising awareness.”

Aubry adds, “While we brought  2,568 plastic bags together as a piece of art to educate the public, the project itself was really a unique collaboration between people —  between us two [Thadani and Aubry], the volunteers and visitors who came by to make their own canvas bag. And especially with local established artists like Christopher Breedlove, who brought his own screen print designs. All of a sudden, dozens of freshly printed bags we gave away saying ‘Bring Your Bag’ were a helluva lot cooler. FIGMENT offers numerous ‘spontaneous collaboration’ moments like that.”

Though their skills overlap as social network professionals, they’re also deeply committed in their partnership to bring back KIDitarod, the wagon race for kids and charity food drive for Greater Chicago Food Depository. While the “grown-up” version on March 1, 2014, raised $40,255 and collected 21,788 pounds of food, Thadani says KIDitarod has more modest goals. “It’s a participatory art piece that stirs things up at FIGMENT for the afternoon.It’s less political than Bring Your Bag, and more about teaching children basics, such as helping people.” Aubry points out that part of the race involves finding 11 other art pieces or activities, and match those up with the 11 Principles of FIGMENT, “They’ll go snag one of [FIGMENT producer] Elysia Lock’s free Pinwheels to learn ‘Gifting,’ and then go to the bathroom and get some water to learn ‘Self-reliance.’ Or they’ll go stare at the cool artsy mirrors and think ‘Immediacy.’ We even have a flag-decorating station. The ideas keep coming.”

Thadani and Aubry add that while costumes and wagons are helpful, they aren’t required. KIDitarod teams are welcome to sign-up online before the event or show up to participate.


One of the more anticipated installations is The Huggery, having travelled countrywide in 2014 to various Regional Burning Man events in Texas, Michigan (Lakes of Fire) and Utah. Co-creator Jason Glaser says, “The Huggery is a great fit for FIGMENT. It’s a wonderful representation how art can connect on an artistic, physical and social level, as well as be completely interactive and lots of fun.” Glaser developed The Huggery with his partner Mehgun Sajeske and often have their children participate, too. “There is an extensive menu of hugs that people can choose from, from ‘Serious Hugs’ to ‘Funny Hugs.’ We’ve even had people get a hug and stay for hours and hours to work The Huggery — some saying The Huggery had a profound and life-changing effect on them. Hugs are powerful things!”


Media Kit 2014. FIGMENT Chicago 2013 High Rez Photos.  2013 FIGMENT Annual Report.


Jefferson Memorial Park 4822 N. Long Ave. Chicago, IL 60630
Accessible by sidewalk, bike, car or train (Jefferson Park Transit Center or CTA Blue Line)


FIGMENT needs artists, volunteers and donors to make it successful. Find out how you can play a role Click “Get Involved” or email Also, check out FIGMENT’sDonation pageVolunteer sign-up, or What to Bring.


Elysia Lock, Producer  ( or 312.576.5426)

Josh Rosenbluh, Curatorial Director (
Lisa Farver and Tanya Clark, Volunteer Co-Directors (

Cynthia Fox, Fundraising Director (

David Shuey, Communications Director (

Amy Barz, Finance Liaison (


FIGMENT is a free, inclusive, participatory arts event held in multiple cities and drawing tens of thousands of participants each year. FIGMENT’s mission is offer free, family-friendly and participatory art to entire communities. The event removes the barriers of museum and gallery walls and entrance fees, blurring the lines between those who create and those who enjoy art. FIGMENT catalyzes and celebrates an abundance of creativity and passion, challenging artists and our communities to find new ways to create, share, think, and dream. FIGMENT’s free annual participatory arts event began in New York City in 2007. In New York, FIGMENThosts an annual summer-long exhibition on Governors Island that includes an interactive sculpture garden, a treehouse, and an artist-designed minigolf course, and an architectural pavilion co-presented with ENYA and SEAoNY.

FIGMENT is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization entirely funded by grants and individual donations. FIGMENTaccepts no corporate sponsorship of any kind. FIGMENT is supported by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. FIGMENT NYC is supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, as well as by the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

FIGMENT Boston is produced with support from the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, the designated stewards of the Rose Kennedy Greenway and site of FIGMENTBoston.

FIGMENT Jackson is produced with support from the Greater Jackson Arts Council.

FIGMENT Geelong is produced in partnership with Diversitat, our local auspice agency, and is supported by City of Greater Geelong through its Community Festivals Grant Program. Click here to support FIGMENT with a donation.

ALPHA is FIGMENT’s annual camping event for creators, in which everyone is expected to bring a project. ALPHA 2014 took place in Darlington, Maryland, on April 25-27, 2014