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Ellison Keomaka’s Art at 7140 Optima Kierland

Pairing unique, tasteful works of art with our buildings is an integral part of design expression with Optima projects. We recently sat down with artist Ellison Keomaka, to discuss the process and inspiration for his most recent contributions to 7140 Optima Kierland. – you can read more about our history with Keomaka here

While creating commissioned artwork for 7180 Optima Kierland last year, Keomaka was simultaneously working on pieces for 7140. “Because I was working on these two bodies of work at the same time, much of the inspiration for the 7140 artwork flowed from what I was creating for 7180,” says Keomaka. 

Armed with an understanding of the building’s design, materiality and sense of space, Keomaka decided to explore a grand palette, bold textures, and adventurous methods — “a playground of color and an exciting experiment,” explains Keomaka. 

Letters From Home at 7140 Optima Kierland
Letters From Home at 7140 Optima Kierland

Partially inspired by his own experience in the military, Letters From Home is an “assemblage work” as Keomaka explains, “that speaks to the emotional stories of soldiers receiving letters from home.” The assemblage includes images from issues of Life Magazine that date back to World War II, with two blocks of bright blue and red that meet to form a shape that resembles the back of an envelope.

Some Kind of Sunset at 7140 Optima Kierland
Some Kind of Sunset at 7140 Optima Kierland

Keomaka’s personal favorite, Some Kind of Sunset captures the idea of the endless shifts in the sun’s position. Working over a period of two months, Keomaka used pearlescent and fluorescent paints to animate the surface of the canvas, allowing the colors to adapt and change with changes in the natural light striking the surface throughout the day.

Desert Dance at 7140 Optima Kierland
Desert Dance at 7140 Optima Kierland

As the title suggests, Keomaka created this piece as a kind of dance that responded to music he was listening to while painting. “Working with music is a big part of my artistic practice,” Keomaka states. “For this work, I was listening to a playlist that included Kanye West, Coldplay and movie soundtracks, and I used my brushstrokes and color choices to respond to the eclectic mix,” he shares.

The Space Between at 7140 Optima Kierland
The Space Between at 7140 Optima Kierland

Comprised of vertical bands of bright colors, The Space Between may seem like it is one of the more simple works of art created by Keomaka for 7140 Optima Kierland. However, color and texture are precisely what make this piece stand out. Keomaka mixed primary colors to create unique hues that live in the spaces between yellow, blue and red, while using a squeegee tool to control the flow and texture of the paint on the canvas to add to the sense of flatness and precision.

Keomaka’s bold and experimental artwork echoes the creative brilliance and ingenuity that we care deeply about at Optima. His ability to translate these artistic gestures into works that activate the public spaces at 7140 Optima Kierland add immeasurably to the beauty and warmth of the interior environment — for residents as well as for all who pass through the building.

Modernism and the Pandemic

This year, health and wellness have been more important than ever. And with self-quarantining and spending more time at home, many have redefined what a healthy home means. Like other shifts in the world, COVID-19 has certainly prompted us to reflect on the impact of design. We’ve seen how Modernism has affected pandemics in the past, but how might it impact our sense of wellness during COVID-19?

Green-Inspired Design

To house healing tuberculosis patients, the Paimio Sanatorium was designed to connect its residents to fresh air and the healing qualities of nature. While its setting in Southwestern Finland was ideal for recovery, it’s not a feasible solution for those trying to stay healthy in urban areas. Our buildings bring the outdoors in, connecting residents to nature through green roof gardens, vertical landscaping systems, private terraces and lush common spaces. 

Natural Light

Sunshine is another natural remedy for ailing health problems, and the iconic expansive windows found across Modernist practices invites plenty of light inside. From Optima Signature in Chicago, to Optima Kierland Center and Optima Sonoran Village in Scottsdale, our buildings feature floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls, swathing our interiors in light. And for those who may want to more fully soak in the sun, our outdoor amenity spaces, like the grand courtyard promenade at Optima Camelview Village, have plenty of seating amongst resort-style luxury amenities for residents to get their daily dose of Vitamin D.  

Minimal and Open

Modernism is known for its minimalist design, where a lack of ornamentation, decorative moldings or elaborate trims are simplified to create a clean aesthetic. Also simplified: floor plans. Modernist architecture is known for its simple, sweeping interiors, taking a “less-is-more” approach to the division of space. At Optima, our large, open floor plans provide bigger and more open spaces, rather than a series of small rooms, allowing people to comfortably spread out and maintain a safe distance.

Whether residents are still self-isolating or just spending more time at home, we know it’s a challenging time to stay healthy and well, both mentally and physically. But we hope that the Modernist sensibilities of our buildings allow for moments of respite throughout the day and better opportunities to focus on wellness.

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Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL





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