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Chicago muralist's work featured 1,000 feet in the air, highlights Korean American life

Korean American muralist’s work featured at iconic Chicago skyscraper
Korean American muralist’s work featured at iconic Chicago skyscraper 02:09

CHICAGO (CBS) – Wednesday marked the start of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and CBS 2 will be telling stories of people contributing to the social fabric of Chicago.

Muralist Katie Chung's newest installation, all hand-painted, takes her to new heights, literally, at 875 North Michigan, formerly the John Hancock Center.

"This room is called 'Cloud Walk' because you are literally in the clouds," Chung said. "This is a 94th floor with open-air windows."

At about 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile, she's installed her new work, "Locals Only," highlighting some of Chicago's various neighborhoods in partnership with the tourist attraction 360 Chicago.

"This is about 200 tiles. About 600 pounds of tiles got delivered to me, and yeah, for a whole month, I was just treating it like a full-time job," she said. "This box is done. Onto the next."

Working so high in the sky comes with its challenges.

"There were days where it snowed, it rained, but there were also really beautiful sunny days and definitely windy," Chung said. "So the paint dried really fast."

Her mural work has been showcased by local businesses and at Lollapalooza, Chicago's best-known summer music festival, but some of her other pieces are rooted in her family history.

"I also make a lot of work about what it means to be Korean American," she said. "I take a lot of materials from my mom's dry cleaning shop, and I turn them into like family artifacts and heirlooms. It's a part of my practice that really highlights my personal identity, but also connects me to my communities and it's also just very different from this mural practice, but I love the balance between private and public. I just keep my hands busy."

Chung signed off on the sky-high installation with her Korean name. While the project came to an end, she said to keep an eye out for her next one.

"I can't say too much about my next project but it will be downtown Chicago," she said. "Pay attention, and yeah, we'll see."

Her Locals Only installation is open to the public, timed to debut with 360 Chicago's renovations.

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