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Joan Lee, 21

SAIC student designs smelly fountains.
Photograph: Andrew Nawrocki
By Jake Malooley |

Grant Park

What do you do? I’m the lab tech for SAIC’s neon shop.

Colorful things are a theme in your life. Ha, yeah! It’s hard to ignore something that’s bright. Plus, I’m drawn to dying mediums. LEDs are kind of killing neon. I’m graduating next semester, and for the thesis show I’m trying to submit an installation of a giant fountain, and I really want it to be smelly and visceral and disgusting.

Like a Nickelodeon fountain? Yeah! If you could smell Nickelodeon and it smelled like feet maybe.

Are there any fountains in Chicago you enjoy? Some of them unintentionally smell like feet. I don’t really like the fountains in Chicago. They’re so traditional.

How would you change Buckingham fountain to make it more interesting to you? If it pumped something other than water, it would be interesting.

Like pig’s blood? If Buckingham Fountain were a Kool-Aid fountain or a functional Hawaiian Punch fountain, I’d be into that.

What do you want to do after graduation? Ideally, just hang out and do nothing except make art.

Ah, the dream of every SAIC grad. To a certain extent. I’ve already got a gig going, though. It’s kind of a weird cleaning service.

Like, illegal weird? I would say I’m operating within the boundaries of the law. I have different levels, tiered payments: I either clean in lingerie, topless or fully nude. People contact me through Craigslist or word-of-mouth.

Do you do windows? Yeah, I actually do a good cleaning job! I had one client tell me that I do a way better job than his legitimate maid.

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