SOUTH LOOP — If you're in the South Loop on Friday, you won't be able to escape it.
Columbia College Chicago will explode with sounds, colors and events that spill into the streets for its annual Manifest student showcase celebrating the work of more than 2,000 students graduating this spring.
The 13th annual donation-funded event is free to the public, and includes lectures, art showcases, dance and musical performances from big names including Now Now, Electric Guest and local star Chance the Rapper, who's slated to play a sold-out Lollapalooza later this summer.
Mark Kelly, vice president of student affairs at Columbia, says the event highlights his students' role as taste-makers as much as it showcases their creative work.
"The talent is booked by our students, because the entire fest is powered by students — they run it, manage it, produce it, market it, arrange it," Kelly said. "Chance the Rapper, performing on the main stage ... has become a very hot commodity. Our students booked him before he became as hot as he is now."
The full festival schedule is available on Columbia's website and lists free events that start as early as 8 a.m. and run past 8 p.m.
Also on Friday, Columbia College Chicago students will make a permanent mark on the surrounding community with the unveiling of a new installation at the downtown Hilton, part of the Wabash Arts Corridor revitalization project.
Students in the school's fashion photography class led by John and Andree McArthur created a series of 17-by-25-foot images that have been installed on the hotel's exterior on Wabash Avenue at the corner of East Eighth Street.
Kelly says the goal of the installation is "to bring additional vibrancy and visual pleasure to the Wabash Arts Corridor." It joins a series of student murals and installations in the area, part of local initiative to make Wabash Avenue more visually appealing, Kelly said.
"And I think that is what you see," he said. "It serves our students and their professional development, but it also serves the community, because Wabash Avenue right now is sort of a canvas that's unpainted. It's a very interesting street, in that there's so much potential."