Local scientists and an environmental writer, Ann Japenga, opposed Chicago’s project. “Huge volumes of colored smoke would obviously have a frightening and unpredictable effect,” Japenga said. Critics sent letters to the zoo, Chicago, and city officials suggesting that they relocate the event. As a result, the zoo canceled it.
This came as a surprise to Chicago, who says she worked for months to ensure that her work wouldn’t disturb local wildlife or their surroundings. She planned to use nontoxic smoke and a device that would minimize the launch’s loud noises.
Chicago argues that raising awareness about the environment is central to her smoke art. She considers it an alternative type of land art, which usually involves large-scale changes to landscapes. Instead of altering nature, Chicago aims to fuse “color, wind, and landscape in order to illuminate the beauty of the world.”