MCA Chicago Plaza Project: Amanda Ross-Ho


Installation view, Amanda Ross-Ho:THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS, MCA Chicago Plaza Project, 2013 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


Los Angeles-based artist Amanda Ross-Ho’s first outdoor public art project, THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS, explores how photography is similar to the act of seeing.

The title of the exhibition is adapted from the 1980 photography handbook How to Control and Use Photographic Lighting, which demonstrates how different lighting drastically affects how details appear in an image. Illustrating this section of the manual is a still life of three objects: a cube, a sphere, and a mannequin’s head. For her iteration of the MCA Chicago Plaza Project, Ross-Ho re-creates this trio at a monolithic scale with faithful allegiance to the original image. Completing the installation is a large-scale rendering of a color calibration card—the color grid that is used to maintain accuracy in the printing or post-production of color photography because it remains consistent in various lighting conditions. By including this card—which is usually discarded or cropped out of finished photographs—Ross Ho presents an image that is self-consciously “contaminated,” as the color calibration card disrupts the composition. At the same time, its inclusion points to it as an artifact of a bygone era in which “accuracy” or “truth” in photography was a given.

Acknowledging how most public art is experienced through the lens of a camera, Ross-Ho deliberately treats her sculptures as photographic subjects and actively seeks to make viewers aware of their role as photographers. In Ross-Ho’s hands, the plaza is transformed into an enormous photo studio, with objects on display for the purpose of being photographed by the public, while the sun provides a shifting source of light, affecting both our perception of how the objects look in real life and how they appear in our photographs. The artist hopes to collect and share images taken by viewers to consider the circulation and recycling of public information and how it affects the production of aesthetic objects. Share your photo on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter using #ILLUMINATEDTHINGS.

THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS is the third iteration of the MCA Chicago Plaza Project, which has previously featured work by Mark Handforth (2011) and Martin Creed (2012).

This exhibition is organized by MCA Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm

The artist would like to extend a special thanks to the following people who made ILLUMINATED THINGS possible:

  • Julie Rodrigues Widholm, curator
  • David Brooks, original source imagery, inspiration

Key Fabrication Team

  • Lawrence Pollman, project manager, design, logistics and installation
  • Rocky Gonzalez and 3Dmass Design and Engineering, design, 3D milling, mold making, and fabrication
  • Alessandro Zezza, design, visualization, and engineering
  • Kehoe Designs, cube fabrication: Kathleen Esterquest, Kirsten Abrahamson, Hector Abonce, Saul Tapia, Rene Martinez

Additional Fabrication/Engineering

  • Erik Frydenborg, Richard Whalen, Martin Gonzalez Jr, Rene Espinosa, Joshua Dawson, Todd Chiappini, David Alvarez, Daniel Perez, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Jackson, Doyle Trankina, Conor Fields, Pat Charrin, Tammy Ho, James Amdurer, Tom Suarez

Shipping and Logistics

  • Amy Louvier, Christine King, David Spanknoble, and the staff at Artex, Los Angeles


  • Brad Martin, Fitzpatrick DeCaro, Matthew Byler, Ian Cochran, Christine Huck, Brian Sauve, Kit Rosenberg, Lee Willert, Steve Hokanson, Joey Lozano, Kevin at MI Steel, Roy Ruschke, Lydia Smith, Duncan Anderson

Photography and Videography

  • Sarah Wambold, Mike Alfini, Exal Iraheta, Nathan Keay, Luke Batten, Aleia Murawski

Social Media

  • Abraham Ritchie


  • Madeleine Grynsztejn, Michael Darling, Steven Bridges, Christia Blankenship, Nora Hennessey, Karla Loring, Rory Pavach, Susan Musich, Heidi Reitmaier, Joe Iverson, Alia Walston, Romain André, Eddie Sallie, Katie Levi, Helen Dunbeck, Lindsay Feldman, Peggy Papaioannou, Erika Hanner, Tyler Blackwell, Jason McNinch, Jameson Zaerr, Lisa Meyerowitz, David Peak, Don Meckley, John Gustafson, Chris Conti, Glenn Wexler


  • Anne Kaplan, Cari and Michael Sacks, David Frej, Nancy Lerner, Mitchell-Innes and Nash, Lucy Mitchell-Innes and David Nash, Jay Gorney, Nicole Russo, Shane Campbell Gallery, Shane Campbell, Julie Campbell, John Schmid, Eric Rushman, Sam Lipp

Installation images

Installation view, Amanda Ross-Ho: THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS, MCA Chicago Plaza Project 2013 Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago