Override | A Billboard Project

Eleventh edition dates April 1–21, 2024

OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project, 2023. Esmaa Mohamoud, The Brotherhood (For Us By Us). Courtesy of Kavi Gupta | Chicago.

OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project is a citywide collaborative public art initiative between EXPO CHICAGO and the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in collaboration with the Chicago Digital Network to exhibit artwork on all CDN billboards and City Information Panels "CIPs" in the Central Business District from April 1–21, 2024. Participants include both emerging and established artists from Chicago and around the world. Placing artwork within this public context and the broader presentation of billboard advertising, OVERRIDE takes its name from industry terminology referring to the continuation of an outdoor advertising program beyond a contracted period. Fully integrated into the language of advertising and local familiar signage, each of the works included within the OVERRIDE program present the opportunity for local and international artists to intercept and push the boundaries of how visual culture is disseminated in our increasingly image-based environment.

Building upon the City of Chicago and DCASE’s longstanding commitment to public art, OVERRIDE provides EXPO CHICAGO a key opportunity beyond Navy Pier to showcase works by leading international artists in neighborhoods throughout the city. 

2023 Participating Artists


Lola Ayisha Ogbara  | Artist, Chicago
Ceargio Bagenda | Artist, Chicago
Pelle Cass | Foto Relevance, Houston
Rico Gatson  | Miles McEnery Gallery, New York
Kristin McWharter | Artist, Chicago
Esmaa Mohamoud  | Kavi Gupta, Chicago  
Aïda Muluneh  | Public Art Fund, Jenkins Johnson Gallery; San Francisco, New York
Max Sansing | Artist, Chicago
Eddie Santana White aka "Edo" | Artist, Chicago
Stephanie Syjuco | Ryan Lee Gallery, New York; Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco 

Lola Ayisha Ogbara, The Perfect Servant, 2021. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

LOLA AYISHA OGBARA

The Perfect Servant, 2021
Courtesy of the artist

Lola Ayisha Ogbara’s series The Perfect Servant continues the artist’s exploration of disruption as resistance in response to drudgery. Immortalizing maids and domestic workers who are often forgotten in narratives surrounding Chicago’s Pullman history, Ogbara revisits the far South Side as “The Ghost of Pullman’s Past” by commemorating Black women laborers of the Industrial Era who’ve helped make the great city of Chicago what it is. Ogbara finds an additional dialogue between sculpture and experimental photography that challenges our relationship to viewership. Referencing destructive gestures in art contexts by way of artist, Ai Weiwei; while pulling from the text, Beloved, by literary scholar, Tori Morrison; Ogbara questions, “What lengths are we willing to go to in order to protect what is ours?” as she begins to imagine a collective disruption in the way we use our bodies to perform capitalistic labor.

Ceargio Beganda, Long Been Gone, 2022. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

CEARGIO BAGENDA

Long Been Gone, 2022
Courtesy of the artist

Illustrated through digital collage animation, Long Been Gone touches on humanity’s influence on the Earth through agriculture, geopolitical conflict, and consequent climate impact. We as the viewer are situated on stage as nature is seated on the theater balcony, realized as a member of the audience observing our actions. The culmination of crowd sourced imagery speaks of the global effort it takes in addressing problems larger than the individual.

Pelle Cass, Pink Dancers, Paris, 2021. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

PELLE CASS

Pink Dancers, Paris, 2021
Courtesy of the artist and Foto Relevance, Houston

In Pelle Cass’s works, a bacchanal of bodies in motion fill each dynamic composition, twisting the rules of time and space. Pink Dancers, Paris is a kind of a still time-lapse, compressing several hours and thousands of exposures into a single image. It was photographed in Paris in 2021 for the designer Jacquemus and Dazed magazine. 

Rico Gatson, Expanded Light Consciousness II, 2022. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

RICO GATSON

Untitled (Expansive Light Consciousness II), 2022
Courtesy of the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York

“Untitled (Expansive Light Consciousness II)", 2022 and “Untitled (North Star II)", 2021 are recent paintings by Rico Gatson. Despite belonging to separate series, both pieces symbolically represent light as a guiding force - a beacon of possibility and hope. Gatson utilizes geometry and pattern to explore ideas of time as it relates to jazz, spirituality, and the black experience. 

Rico Gatson, Untitled (North Star II), 2021. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

RICO GATSON

Untitled (North Star II), 2021
Courtesy of the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York

“Untitled (Expansive Light Consciousness II)", 2022 and “Untitled (North Star II)", 2021 are recent paintings by Rico Gatson. Despite belonging to separate series, both pieces symbolically represent light as a guiding force - a beacon of possibility and hope. Gatson utilizes geometry and pattern to explore ideas of time as it relates to jazz, spirituality, and the black experience. 

Kristin McWharter, Built Character, 2021. Photo by Faith Decker.

KRISTIN MCWHARTER

Built Character, 2021
Courtesy of the artist

From the artist's Trophies series. A virtual participation trophy to congratulate you on doing what you can. A meditation on the millennial participation trophy and the perceptions of how practices of validation and community engagement shaped a generation. 

Kristin McWharter, Really Great, 2020. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

KRISTIN MCWHARTER

Really Great, 2020
Courtesy of the artist

From the artist's Trophies series. A virtual participation trophy to congratulate you on showing up. A meditation on the millennial participation trophy and the perceptions of how practices of validation and community engagement shaped a generation. 

Esmaa Mohamoud, Deeper The Wounded, Deeper The Roots, 2019. Photo by Faith Decker.

ESMAA MOHAMOUD

The Brotherhood (For Us By Us), 2021
Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago

Ironically, when we think of the public we often overlook and exclude many communities. Although institutional museums are often public spaces, many people feel unwelcome within them. The Brotherhood (For Us By Us) explores the relationship between two Black male subjects in the public sphere. The mural image depicts the men, who appear to be friends or brothers, standing in the water of Lake Ontario. They are connected to one another through the use of a two headed durag. The goal of this work is to challenge ideas of Black intimacy and vulnerability in a way that highlights both the closeness and the fragility of Black men.

Esmaa Mohamoud, Deeper The Wounded, Deeper The Roots, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago.

ESMAA MOHAMOUD

Deeper The Wounded, Deeper The Roots, 2019
Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago

In this three-photograph series, Mohamoud uses the language of metaphor to capture the experience of Black bodies in  Western  history, and  to call out the unceasing exploitation of Black body labour that has persisted until today. Reflecting on this history of Black Canadians and the history of Anti-Blackness worldwide, Mohamoud draws comparisons between two different—but similar—fields. On both grounds, Black bodies continue to be exploited for industrial profits, crops then and sports entertainment now. The men in the photos outfitted in Mohamoud’s custom-made jerseys stand tall in the field.  

Aïda Muluneh, If they come for me in the morning, 2022. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

AÏDA MULUNEH

If they come for me in the morning, 2022
Courtesy of the artist; Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, New York; and Public Art Fund

Two female figures peer out from behind dense red foliage, their faces partially concealed by leaves. Mixing stylistic references from various Ethiopian tribes and global face-painting designs, Aïda Muluneh’s use of face paint masks the identity of the women and is meant to simultaneously attract and destabilize viewers. Both the foliage and the face paint provide protection for the women, as they hide in plain sight. Originally commissioned by Public Art Fund for Aïda Muluneh: This is where I am, presented on over 330 JCDecaux bus shelters in Chicago, New York and Boston in the United States, and Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire. *Aïda Muluneh's "This is Where I am" participating in IN/SITU Outside 2023.

Max Sansing, Rapture, 2021. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

MAX SANSING

Rapture, 2021
Courtesy of the artist

Looking back on childhood, the nostalgia of growing up on the South Side is mixed with the adult realization of what it took for my parents to protect their children. In a place often publicized for it's unnatural mortality rate for young black men, my family fought for all of us to have that prototypical, idyllic childhood. This piece is an appreciation of the gift that we were given in a location that most people consider a warzone; that gift endures in each of us.

Max Sansing, 1989, 2019. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

MAX SANSING

1989, 2019
Courtesy of the artist

Inspired by the seminal Public Enemy song, "Fight the Power", this encapsulates that time in life when innocence recedes. Suddenly having to worry about your surroundings, what neighborhood you're in, how people might judge you in that neighborhood, is a lesson that we all had to learn. Taking the bus to high school, it was necessary to leave my smile at the door and put on a game face, keep my guard up and leave the carefree attitude of just a year or two behind, not only to stay safe, but just to be left alone. That realization of how the world really works, and how it works differently for different people has had an intense influence on my work.

Eddie Santano White Aka "Edo," Infinite Gratitude, 2023. Photo by Sandra Oviedo.

EDDIE SANTANA WHITE AKA "EDO"

Infinite Gratitude, 2023
Courtesy of the artist and The Arte Haus

Infinite Gratitude represents being grateful and thankful for everything that we have. Gratitude and how we choose to express it varies from person to person: for the person who’s grateful for love, there's a heart in every letter; for the person who’s grateful for the opportunity to dream and have an imagination, there’s a child. With the intent to evoke the actual emotion of joy upon viewing, Infinite Gratitude seeks to go beyond Chicago, to the rest of the world.

Stephanie Syjuco, Chromakey Aftermath (Standard Bearers), 2019. Photo by Faith Decker.

STEPHANIE SYJUCO

Chromakey Aftermath (Standard Bearers), 2019
Courtesy of the artist; Ryan Lee Gallery, New York; and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco

In Chromakey Aftermath (Standard Bearers), a protest scene is rendered in “green screen” as if an editor plans to superimpose a new setting onto the original image. Syjuco’s use of this fabric reflects upon how information can be manipulated and faked—thus transforming the meaning of the props and the intent of the protestors. In this work, Syjuco explores how media representation of public protests can distort their original meaning. The making of this photograph is discussed in season 9 of art21’s Art in the 21st Century series.