First Chicago mural by Banksy collaborator EINE in Wabash Arts Corridor

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First Chicago mural by Banksy collaborator EINE in Wabash Arts Corridor
Ben Eine (EINE) “Harmony” mural in progress in Chicago’s Wabash Arts Corridor, on the University Center building. Image by Philip Dembinski, Columbia College Chicago.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Wabash Arts Corridor, in partnership with Columbia College Chicago and Vertical Gallery, unveils this week the first Chicago mural from acclaimed London-based street artist Ben Eine (EINE). A former collaborator of Banksy, EINE’s new work will read “Harmony” in his iconic Circus Font on the Wabash-facing exterior of University Center, a residence hall located at 525 S. State Street.

Columbia alumna Heidi Unkefer and current student JJ McLuckie is assisting EINE as he paints the mural this week. EINE’s “Harmony” mural joins 10 others already lining the WAC, from Columbia alumni as well as established street artists like Hebru Brantley, Never 2501, Shepard Fairey and POSE. In addition to creating the University Center mural, EINE is part of Vertical Gallery’s public exhibition The Great Western with fellow UK artists Sickboy and Word to Mother. It is the first time the artists have exhibited in Chicago.

"EINE's selection of the word ‘harmony’ creatively supports University Center's mission to nurture each of our resident's individual potential, inside and outside of the classroom, while in context of community,” says University Center General Manager Marlene Levine. “You can imagine how important creating harmony is with nearly 1,700 students living together. We have accomplished this year after year with great programs for building new friendships."

The Wabash Arts Corridor—a group of educational institutions, art galleries, performances spaces, hotels and restaurants in the district—was formed by Columbia College Chicago and has been repurposing building walls in the area for several years as vibrant street art canvases. The mural project also aligns with Chicago Loop Alliance’s Transforming Wabash initiative to revitalize Wabash Avenue from Congress Parkway to Wacker Drive and make the district more economically competitive—in this case strengthening and supporting the artistic, cultural and higher education institutions in the area.

Ben Eine, aka EINE, was born in London, England, in 1970 and is one of London’s most prolific street artists, specializing in the central element of all graffiti—the form of letters. Originally a writer, EINE started his career over 25 years ago leaving his first tag all over London before developing the distinct typographic style he is known for today. Specializing in painting huge single letters on shop fronts, EINE's bright, colorful letters have transformed streets around the world, including LA, San Francisco, Mexico City, Miami, Paris, Dublin, Tokyo, Stockholm, Dubai, Berlin, New York, and most famously “Alphabet Street”—the shutters and murals he painted on Middlesex Street, London. EINE shot to international fame when Prime Minister David Cameron presented one of his works to President Obama as a gift on their first official state visit, and his subsequent San Francisco solo show sold out prior to opening. EINE was also included in the biggest exhibition of street art to date, “Art in the Streets” at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Los Angeles.

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