Public Art in the Parks: The Burnham Wildlife Corridor Gathering Spaces

Wandering along the wood-chipped paths of the Burnham Wildlife Corridor (BWC), visitors encounter native plants and wildlife in a variety of natural ecosystems.

Unexpectedly, something unique emerges from the landscape: a spiral table, a ring made from interlocking butterfly wings, a philosopher’s stone, a collection of amorphous willow forms, a painted Sankofa bird with mosaic wings. These are the Burnham Wildlife Corridor Gathering Spaces, a series of artist-designed installations interspersed throughout the BWC.

La Ronda Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

La Ronda Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Sankofa for the Earth Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Sankofa for the Earth Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Set in Stone Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Set in Stone Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

“Nature has always been something important to me, I feel it, I feel its aliveness, so the fact that this project would encourage people [in the area] to come and connect with nature, that was exciting”
Fo Wilson, Lead Artist, Sounding Bronzeville (pictured above, image: © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016)

The Gathering Spaces are the result of a commitment among the Chicago Park District, The Field Museum, and community partners to improving the quality of life for Chicago residents through deepening connections to nature in the city. The spaces serve as assembly grounds, resting areas, and places of contemplation.

The five Gathering Spaces were designed, created, and activated by teams of local artists in partnership with community-based organizations from the nearby neighborhoods of Pilsen, Chinatown, and Bronzeville. The spaces pay homage to and respect the natural plant and animal life around them in both their designs and by utilizing materials such as recycled wood, stones, willow branches, and native plantings.

Opening Celebration at Sounding Bronzeville Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Opening Celebration at Sounding Bronzeville Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Day of the Dead Festivities at La Ronda Gathering Space

Day of the Dead Festivities at La Ronda Gathering Space

“[The Gathering Spaces project] is about the restoration of the land and the restoration of our souls as a people” –Raymond Thomas, Lead Artist, Sankofa for the Earth

The artist teams and partners spent months designing and transforming areas of the BWC into what are now the Gathering Spaces. The results are a diverse, yet cohesive collection of installations that reflect the nature and culture of their surroundings.

Rendering of Caracol Gathering Space

Rendering of Caracol Gathering Space

Caracol Gathering Space in Progress, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Caracol Gathering Space in Progress, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Completed Caracol Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

Completed Caracol Gathering Space, © Sandra Steinbrecher 2016

The five Gathering Spaces:

Sounding Bronzeville
Fo Wilson, Norman Teague, and Chris Buchakjian in partnership with the Bronzeville Community Development Partnership

Caracol
Georgina Valverde, Diana Solis, and José Terrazas in partnership with Contratiempo.

La Ronda Parakata
Hector Duarte and Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves in partnership with Casa Michoacán

Set in Stone
Andy Bellomo and Anna Murphy in partnership with the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago Raymond B. & Jean T. Lee Center

Sankofa for the Earth
Arlene Turner Crawford, Dorian Sylvain, and Raymond A. Thomas in partnership with the South Side Community Art Center.

Come Visit the Gathering Spaces!

The Gathering Spaces officially opened last June. Join us as we celebrate the first birthday at this year’s National Trails Day on Saturday, June 3rd from 10:00 – Noon! Come out, visit the Gathering Spaces, and help restore the natural trails in the BWC!

Take a self-guided tour of the Gathering Spaces any time with the Vamonde app!

Join us next month for another installation of our blog series with the
Chicago Park District public art department!
Donate to the Chicago Parks Foundation to continue this dynamic public art program.

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