New South Loop art installation hopes to inspire others during pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The people behind a new art installation are hoping to inspire others during the pandemic.

It was assembled Thursday in the South Loop neighborhood as a sign of encouragement during mental health awareness month, and beyond.

"You got this" is a positive message with just three words that artist Matthew Hoffman hopes will inspire his fellow Chicagoans.

"No matter what kind of happens or gets thrown at you, you got this and you can handle it," he said.

The 41-year-old artist is also the creator of the "You are Beautiful" project, which he started in 2002 with 100 stickers of the affirmation after moving to Chicago from a small town.

Now, 19 years later, with 7.5 million stickers in seven languages around the world, the effort has netted 35 pieces around the city and this one is marking the year of the pandemic.

"Especially after this last year, you got this. You can handle anything," Hoffman said.

The work was installed at a green space at the Roosevelt Collection Shops in the South Loop.

The mall's marketing director, Ashley Paprock, said the work is a continuation of a commitment the property made to create community after the racial unrest and the pandemic.

"We're not just putting up something or a social media moment. Of course, it's great for that but we're really speaking to mental health awareness and supporting everyone in our community at this time," Paprock said.

The affirmation's unveiling comes as May begins mental health awareness month.

As Chicago begins to recover from the pandemic, mental health professionals said it's more important than ever to know it's okay not to be okay, especially for kids and teens.

After Thursday's unveiling, there's now an initiative to bring these types of inspirational messages to all 50 states.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.