Artist Kaitlyn Beiriger’s 2021 mural “Time Piece” at 1014 S. Michigan Ave.

Artist Kaitlyn Beiriger’s 2021 mural “Time Piece” at 1014 S. Michigan Ave.

Austin Hojdar / Sun-Times

‘Twilight Zone’ and the pandemic inspired artist Kaitlyn Beiriger’s South Loop mural

The artist watched reruns of the black-and-white sci-fi TV series to pass time amid COVID shutdowns. That led to her mural ‘Time Piece’ at 1014 S. Michigan Ave.

In a 1961 episode of “The Twilight Zone,” a hobo, circus clown, ballet dancer, bagpiper and Army major find themselves trapped in a cylindrical room with no memory of who they are apart from their outfits and zero concept of time.

“We’re nameless things with no memory,” the ballet dancer says. “No knowledge of what went before, no understanding of what is now, no knowledge of what will be.”

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, watching reruns of the classic sci-fi TV series was a way for artist Kaitlyn Beiriger to pass time. She says this episode particularly resonated with her amid the COVID-19 shutdowns because of “how time can feel like it’s dragging on forever or moving too fast.”

It inspired her first mural, titled “Time Piece,” which she painted in August 2021 on a Columbia College Chicago building at 1014 S. Michigan Ave. in the South Loop. It influenced the black-and-white palette she used and the mural’s themes of “life and death and the crazy concepts that are time and space.

“I don’t want the meaning to just be there and easily digestible,” says Beiriger, 25. “I want people to just sit and think about: Why does this mean something?”

Artist Kaitlyn Beiriger.

Artist Kaitlyn Beiriger.

Jesse Pace

She says the impact of the pandemic also influenced the work.

“Time is all around us, and it’s something I don’t understand, and it’s all happening at once, and it happened already, and it’s going to happen,” she says.

The mural features an image of a clock seemingly unraveling, with Roman numerals flying above and below.

There’s also a checkerboard pattern that Beiriger says was inspired by another quarantine pastime of hers — chess.

“I honestly loved how slow time felt,” she says. “There were so many new interests I really had the time to explore.”

There’s also an image of a hand holding onto a staircase.

“I think everyone has a stairway into their mind, and everyone has something to offer that can make this world a better place,” Beiriger says. “Something that we can all connect with.”

She says she wants people to be able to think “existential thoughts” when looking at her work.

“We all occupy a vessel that is a collection of matter and atoms,” she says. “We have a light that is within us and who knows where that comes from. Who knows where it goes.”

The central image features a girl “holding on for dear life” as she’s gripping the edge of the mural.

For Meg Duguid, executive director of the Department of Exhibitions, Performance and Student Spaces at Columbia College Chicago, the girl reminds her of “Alice jumping through the looking glass.”

“There’s a lot to it that plays with pop cultural tropes while maintaining her own style,” Duguid says of Beiriger’s artwork, done on a Columbia building at 1014 S. Michigan Ave.

Beiriger graduated from Columbia in December 2020 with an illustration degree and took a five-week mural course there with instructor and fellow muralist Cheri Charlton.

Duguid says the “black and white really stands out” on the street, which was Beiriger’s intention.

“I just love the contrast, especially for an outside location, because there’s color surrounding us at all times,” Beiriger says. “It’s nice to have some stark white and black contrast that just seems very striking.”

Besides a chalk piece she made for a pizzeria in 2019, this is still Beiriger’s only mural. While making it, she says she “felt like a kid at a playground, scribbling with my crayons.”

“I painted for like nine hours a day for about a week,” she says. “I think I put in like 50 hours, and it was the time of my life. I loved every second of it.”

Over the past year, she’s been focusing on a tattoo apprenticeship where “an experienced tattooer takes you under their wing” to learn the craft.

“I really like tattooing as a way to connect on an individual level, and I think of mural painting as a way to connect on a community level,” Beiriger says.

Just like tattoos capture a moment in time in someone’s life, Beiriger says she wants people to take a second to “be still and sit” when looking at her mural.

“Things that take more time to think about, that’s where the meaning is,” she says. “That’s what makes life rich.”


Chicago’s murals & mosaics

Part of a series on public art. More murals added every week.

Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals

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