Chris Vorhees and SIMPARCH: Uppers and Downers

January 10 - December 1, 2012


As part of our Threshold series, the collaborative team of Chris Vorhees and SIMPARCH transform the Smart Museum’s reception hall into a fantastical domestic landscape.

Uppers and Downers reworks the familiar kitchen setup of cabinetry, countertop, and sink into an abstracted version of a massive rainbow arching over a waterfall. This kitschy natural scene plays upon the utopian promise that restraint yields bliss: if only you eliminate excess and organize clutter to hide messy reality behind stylish surfaces, then happiness will follow. Or perhaps not. Uppers and Downers draws equally on the history of twentieth-century sculpture and design and the twenty-first century problem of accumulation. This site-specific work showcases the artists’ seriously playful aesthetic, expert craftsmanship, sensitive reworking of everyday materials, and capacity to transform the ways people interact with and within architectural spaces.

Uppers and Downers is the artists’ first long-term project for a U.S. museum.


Watch as the artists transform the Smart's reception hall by building a forty foot rainbow out of custom kitchen cabinets and an overflowing sink that doubles as a fountain.


Stephanie Smith, Smart Museum Deputy Director and Chief Curator


Lead funding for Uppers and Downers has been generously provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Additional support for the Threshold series is provided by the Smart Family Foundation and Mary Smart.

Above: Chris Vorhees and SIMPARCH, partial installation view of Uppers and Downers, 2012, LED lighting, metal, plumbing fixtures, PVC sheet, water, and wood.
Share this:

Related program

  • Friday, November 16, 4 pm
    Artist Talk

    Join artists Matt Lynch of SIMPARCH and Chris Vorhees for a discussion about their collaborative working process and their site-specific installation Uppers and Downers.

    Presented by the Smart Museum of Art and the Open Practice Committee.


  • The Threshold series brings a major installation of contemporary art to the Smart Museum’s reception hall and sculpture garden each year, ensuring that all visitors—whether they have come to the building for a class, an exhibition, or a cup of coffee—will instantly encounter new art.


The University of Chicago smARTKids