On June 1, Andrea Bowers performed “Skyway Bridge” with members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the Chicago Ideas Week opening ceremony. The piece marks the end of a yearlong collaboration between the musicians and artists. Here, the composer, filmmaker, and poet reflects on the work that was formed:
On Saturday night, there were people dancing all the way to the top of the Willis Tower.
It was an emotional experience, dancing down the bridge because it was the last bridge I saw as a child. I used to climb the bridges and hang out on rooftops.
I will always be fascinated by architecture. I wanted the piece to be about architecture because it doesn’t just represent a structure, but a metaphor of love, adventure, and freedom.
And it celebrates our connection to the physical world through music. I called on other musicians and artists from different disciplines: composer Howard Hanson, percussionist Phillip Kennell, Lillian Chen, and dancers Lauren Lewin, Amber Clements, and Amanda Rousseau.
The creators had me choreograph the movement of the dancers, which I did in Chicago. I sat on the periphery of the production. It’s nice to have that connection with an audience, to be included. It’s what artists do. The people in the room with me, the audiences that come to hear me perform or tour, they are the ones who make it all happen.
Ms. Bowers, as an artist, is recognized for her black-and-white photographs that show poignant moments in the lives of everyday Chicagoans. More recently, she’s used her art to raise awareness about issues related to social justice and climate change. She is being honored for her work by Chicago Ideas Week.