MCA Chicago Plaza Project: Martin Creed

In early August 2012, London-based artist Martin Creed (British, b. 1968) debuted an ambitious new sculpture created especially for the MCA plaza. Made up of white neon lettering, "Work No. 1357, MOTHERS" is the largest kinetic sculpture Creed has created to date: measuring forty-eight feet wide and more than twenty feet tall, it steadily rotates a full 360 degrees. This substantial public artwork is a companion piece to the artist’s yearlong residency at the MCA, Martin Creed Plays Chicago, which blurs the lines between the inside and the outside of the museum and furthers Creed’s engagement with the city at large.

I started working on this thing called MOTHERS a few years ago and it’s been in progress for a very long time.

Originally it started because I was asked to make something in public. It was in a railway station in Germany and at the – the people who wanted it, wanted something very very big to fill a big space in this station and I was trying to think of something that would look good big and then, that’s when I started thinking about making a big sign that said "MOTHERS," because – I suppose because I got to thinking mothers must be bigger than you are.

So when it comes to big things, mothers have got to be big because if they weren’t bigger than their baby, they wouldn’t be able to be their mother. So I was thinking that the word "MOTHERS" would look good big and I started working on it but it was only much later when it started becoming a possible reality that I thought it’d be good to have it spinning round.

The thing about – one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is that, ‘cause I’ve made a lot of works with words and made words made into sculptures and I sometimes think, "Why did I do that? Why bother making a word into sculpture, why not just write it down on a piece of paper?" Then, "If you’re gonna make a word into sculpture, why make certain signs? Does it matter whether a word’s bigger or smaller?" And I think I was thinking about that a little bit and thinking that there’s a good reason to make this very big, the reason being with mothers, they need to be big, they need to be bigger than babies.

And that’s kind of how it came about and I think the reason it spins round is because I kind of a thought when I was working on it, not only should it be big but it should be out of control as well. ‘Cause I think that mothers are kind of scary because they have complete power over you when you’re born. And I was thinking that maybe that mothers are the most important people in the world. So it’s a kind of monument to mothers.