Women Made Public Art in Chicago

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Women Made Public Art in Chicago

From working as studio assistants to being formally trained, having their own studios, and producing their own masterpieces, women have come a long way..

In the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Lorado Taft employed a group of women ssistants, an occurrence that was virtually unheard of at that time. The story goes that Taft realized that all the male sculptors to be had, were already employed elsewhere and Taft could not complete the decorations on time. He asked Daniel Burnham if he could use women assistants. Burnham’s reply was that he could, “Hire anyone, even white rabbits, if they can get the work done.” Taft, who was then the instructor of sculpture at the Chicago Art Institute, and had many qualified women students; brought in a group of women assistants. They were soon dubbed as “the White Rabbits” for their collective ability to nimbly ascend and descend the many required ladders. From the ranks of the White Rabbits emerged some of the most talented and successful women sculptors of the next generation – Carol Brooks MacNeil, Helen Farnsworth Mears, Bessie Potter Vonnoh and Enid Yandell – to name a few.
Now most women sculptors are formally trained women, with their own studios, working on their own commissions.

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Chicago is home to many women made Public Art pieces,
by some of the most acclaimed local, national and international artists.
Here are a few.

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Sky Landing - by Yoko Ono

Sky Landing – by Yoko Ono

 

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Sky Landing – by Yoko Ono
Installed: 2016
Location: Garden of Phoenix, Jackson Park, Chicago.
East 60th Street on Wooded Island, between Lake Shore Drive and Cornell Drive.

“Sky Landing” is a sculpture-&-landscaping installation which consists of a 12 steel lotus petals, each about 12-foot-tall rising up from the ground as a gesture of peace, hope and renewal. The sculpture is surrounded by mounds that form the yin yang symbol representing opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe. Sky Landing, which is a rising lotus,  symbolizes peace and at once reminds us of the song “Give Peace a Chance” written by her husband John Lennon [credited to Lennon–McCartney], and performed with Ono in Montreal, Canada. Released as a single in 1969, it became an anthem of the American anti-war movement during the 1970s.  Ten years later, in 1980, her husband John Lennon was killed in gun shooting violence. Yoko Ono who has witnessed the Second World War, and the brutal assassination of her husband  is now a world renowned peace activist.

For more.. click here..

 

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Agora - by Magdalena Abakanowicz

Agora – by Magdalena Abakanowicz

 

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Agora – by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Unveiled: November 16, 2006.
Location: Grant Park, intersection of S. Michigan Ave. and Roosevelt Road, Chicago.
106 cast iron figures / H 9 ft. each / weighing eleven hundred pounds each / created in poland.

Agora is perhaphs the largest Public Art installation in Chicago.

For more.. click here..

 

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Helping Hands - by Louis Bourgeois

Helping Hands – by Louis Bourgeois

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Helping Hands - by Louis Bourgeois

Helping Hands – by Louis Bourgeois

 

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“Helping Hands”, A Memorial to Jane Addams – by Louis Bourgeois
Initially installed 1996 / Reinstalled: 2011.
Location: Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens, Prairie Avenue.

Commissioned by the B.F. Ferguson Fund established to honor great figures or evens in American history. The sculpture pays homage to Jane Addams [1860 – 1935], Chicago’s famous social reformer and Nobel Peace Prize winner. The sculpture is created by a woman [Louis Bourgeoise, famous for contributions to contemporary art] and loacted in a park created to pay tribute to important women in the history of Chicago, “Chicago Women’s Park and Gardens”.

For more.. click here..

 

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Monument to the Great Northern Migration - by Alison Saar

Monument to the Great Northern Migration – by Alison Saar

 

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Monument to the Great Northern Migration – by Alison Saar
Installed: 1996
Bronze / H 15ft
Location: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. at 26 street.
Part of the 1996 King Drive Gateway Project.

This bronze figure is a testament to the thousands of African Americans who migrated to Chicago in the early 20th century in search of greater freedom and opportunity. The traveler’s hand is raised in salutation to his new home. His other hand carries a worn suitcase symbolic of his journey, dreams and talents. The bollards surrounding the monument are also suitcases that are textured with a pattern derived from the tin ceilings of the era. The figure is oriented to the north symbolizing the traveler’s destination. Sculptor Alison Saar is an American sculptor, painter and installation artist whose work explores themes of African cultural diaspora and spirituality.

For more.. click here..

 

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Haymarket Memorial - by Mary Brogger

Haymarket Memorial – by Mary Brogger

 

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Haymarket Memorial – by Mary Brogger
Installed: 2004.
Location: Desplaines St. between Lake and Randolph Sts.
Bronze / H 15 ft. x W 9 ft. x L 16 ft.
Special Project  [2004] of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

This memorial marks the actual spot where the wagon used as the speaker’s platform stood on the evening of May 4, 1886.
The site of Haymarket Tragedy was designated a Chicago Landmark on March 25, 1992.

For more.. click here..

 

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America's Courtyard

America’s Courtyard – by Denise Milan and Ary Perez

 

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America’s Courtyard – by Denise Milan and Ary Perez.
Initially installed in 1998, north of Art Institute in Grant Park,
and in 1999 was reinstalled at its current location at Adler Planetarium in Museum Campus.
Special Project [1998] of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

Composed of stone blocks of varying colors and origins, Americas’ Courtyard is a tribute to the ethnic diversity of America. The installation was designed to be modular, allowing the sculpture to be reorganized in relation to its surroundings. The arena of stones was originally located near the Art Institute of Chicago but was later moved to a permanent location on the lawn of the Adler Planetarium. Here the sculpture was reconfigured to resemble a spiral-shaped galaxy. Artists Ary Perez and Denise Milan worked in conjunction with Adler archeoastronomer Phyllis Pitluga to orient the sculpture to mark the sun’s passage through seasonal equinoxes.

For more.. click here..

 

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Daphne - by Dessa Kirk

Daphne – by Dessa Kirk

 

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Daphne Garden – by Dessa Kirk
Initailly installed in 2004 in Grant Park.
Reinstalled in Northerly Island in 2006.
Location: Northerly Island.
These three figurative sculptures of Daphne are all made from scraps of discarded Cadillac cars.
Special Project [2004] of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

In 2004, there were twenty-four “Art in the Garden” installations in Chicago’s various parks as part of Special Project of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. The artists were asked to integrate plant material into their installations to create constantly changing displays. One of them was Daphne Garden by Dessa Kirk. It was so well received that so well-received that the temporary installation was moved to Northerly Island in 2006. These three figurative sculptures of Daphne are all made from scraps of discarded Cadillac cars. One the the themes of this Dessa Kirk’s work is to find hidden beauty in ugliness.

For more.. click here..

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Siblings - by Rosetta

Siblings – by Rosetta

 

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Siblings – by Rosetta
Unveiled: 1997
Location: West of the Matthew Laflin Memorial Building on Clark Street.
Two young mountain lions reclining.

Jan Rosetta Schockner works under the name Rosetta. She is famous for stylized bronze animals. Janet Rosetta was born in 1945 in Richmond, Virginia. She is married to photographer Mel Schockner and works from her studio in Loveland, Colordao.

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Ben - by Deborah Butterfield

Ben – by Deborah Butterfield

 

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Ben – by Deborah Butterfield
1989 / Bronze
Location: Seneca Park, at the intersection of Mies Van Der Rohe Way and Chicago Avenue.

Deborah Kay Butterfield is an American sculptor. She is known for her sculptures of horses made from found objects, like metal, and especially pieces of wood. Initially she began constructing her sculptures using natural materials such as mud, clay and sticks. Later she began using metal in her work. She also uses reclaimed materials such as found wood, steel and scrap metal. Butterfield carefully selects pieces of wood that outline the form and gesture of the horse. The wood pieces are then cast in bronze, burning the wood away.

For more.. click here..

 

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Riverwalk Gateway - by Ellen Lanyon

Riverwalk Gateway – by Ellen Lanyon

 

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Riverwalk Gateway – by Ellen Lanyon
Architect: The trellised, cast-concrete walkway, is designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Location: Under Lakeshore Drive, south bank of Chicago River.

Ellen Lanyon’s ceramic murals offers pedestrians a pictorial narrative of the city’s history as it is entwined to the Chicago River. In 1998, the painter Ellen Lanyon won a competition to create ceramic murals for the two 127-foot-long walls which marks the Chicago Riverwalk Gateway. The 16 full-scale narrative panels each document an episode in Chicago’s history. Lanyon was a painter and printmaker from Chicago. She was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Iowa and the Courtauld Institute. Her works are in the permanent collections of many major American museums.

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Some of the earliest women-made public sculptures that we can see in Chicago are by
Slyvia Shaw Judson [1879-1798],
Laura Gardin Fraser [1889-1965], and..
Elisabeth Haseltine Hibbard [1894-1950].

The “Fawn” of the Wallech Fountain at Promontory Point is by Elisabeth Hibbard, the reclining “Elks” at Elks National Memorial are by Laura Gardin Fraser, and the relief work “Electricity” is by Slyvia Shaw Judson. At Chicago Botanic Garden, one can see “Merchild” by Slyvia Shaw Judson, and also work of one of her students Margot McMahon, “Boy Gardner.”

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Elks - by Laura Gardin Fraser.

Elks – by Laura Gardin Fraser.

 

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Reclining Elks – by Laura Gardin Fraser.
Location: Elks National Memorial
2750 N. Lakeview Avenue, intersection of Sheridan Road and Diversey Parkway in Lincoln Park.

Two life size reclining elks flank the steps in front of the Elks National Memorial, where the steps where they meet the sidewalk. These are made by Laura Gardin Fraser.  Laura Gardin was born on Sep. 14, 1889 in Chicago. She married another sculptor James Earle Fraser. Laura’s early works were small scale sculptures usually animals like dogs and horses. Later she turned to work on a larger scale work, like the Reclining Elks at the Elks Memorial. However she is most famous for designing medals, trophies, and coins. She was the first woman to design a coin for the United States Treasury. Although both husband wife were sculptors, they are known to have worked independently. The only piece where the couple worked together to sculpt the design for the Oregon Trail Memorial Half Dollar.

For more “Elks” by Laura Gardin Fraser.. click here..
Laura Gardin Fraser and James Earle Fraser.. click here..

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Fawn – by Elisabeth Hibbard

Fawn – by Elisabeth Hibbard

 

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Fawn – by Elisabeth Hibbard
David Wallach Memorial Fountain
Installed: 1939
Location: Near 55th Street, east of underpass leading to the Promontory Point.

Elisabeth Haseltine Hibbard [1894-1950] was a sculptor in her own right. She married another sculptor Frederick C. Hibbard [1881-1950]. Frederick and Elisabeth Hibbard had both studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with the renowned sculptor Lorado Taft. Elisabeth went on to teach art at the University of Chicago from 1943 until 1950. Especially well-known for her animal figures, she had also created some wooden bird and squirrel sculptures that were located on the Wooded Island in Jackson Park, but these no longer exist. The husband-wife duo were commissioned in the 1930s to create the fountain in Burnham Park for the “man and beast”. The fountain was designed by Frederick Hinnard. Elisabeth did the sculpture. She modeled the Wallach Fountain’s fawn after a doe that she had seen at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Although David Wallach Memorial Fountain has a pool for birds and dogs and drinking fountains for children and adults.

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Merchild - by Sylvia Shaw Judson

Merchild – by Sylvia Shaw Judson

 

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Merchild – by Sylvia Shaw Judson
1920 / Bronze
Location: Chicago Botanic Garden

Sylvia Shaw Judson [1897–1978] was an American sculptor and teacher. She was the daughter of prominent Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. She studied with Anna Hyatt Huntington and Albin Polasek at the Art Institute of Chicago and went to Paris in 1920 to continue her studies under Antoine Bourdelle at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Judson was influenced by Chinese sculpture and the work of French sculptor Aristide Maillol, whom she met in Paris. Few of other works that can be found in Chicago like, “Spirit Of Electricity” 1931, adorning a substation in the Daley Plaza, Chicago, and “Bird Girl”, 1936, bronze, at the Cliff Dwellers. Chicago Botanic Garden has “Birds on Eggs” and “Naughty Faun”, apart from “Merchild.”

For more.. click here..

 

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Boy Gardener – by Margot McMahon

Boy Gardener – by Margot McMahon

 

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Boy Gardener – by Margot McMahon
1986 / Bronze
Location: Rose garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

Margot McMahon sculpts “forms of nature”, with humans, plants and animals symbolizing life. She uses various mediums like  bronze, steel, aluminum, granite, concrete or wood. Margot has served on boards of National Museum of Women in the Arts, Yale Women, Association Yale Alumni, and Chicago Sculpture International.

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Hedgerow - by Lucy Slivinski

Hedgerow – by Lucy Slivinski

 

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Hedgerow – by Lucy Slivinski
Installed: 2006
Location: South President’s Court in Grant Park, Columbus Drive across from Buckingham Fountain.
The sculpture was part of the 2006 exhibition, “Artists And Automobiles”
Organized by Special Project [2006] of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

The sculpture is  constructed from cast-off automobile parts. Lucy Slivinski works with found materials. In her words.. “Through recycling, we have blessed opportunities to reshape things that are perceived as decay, into replenished mysteries of beauty.”

For more.. click here..

 

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Binary Project

Binary Project

 

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Binary Project
A collaborative effort by Gallery 37 Apprentice Artists, with Lead Artists Nicole Beck and Jim Brenner.

Nicole beck has worked on a lot of public and private commissions with sculptural installations spread nationwide. She has a diversified skill set which includes working with a multitude of materials: steel and stainless steel, bronze, wood, glass, mosaic and even landscape. One of her recent Amplifiers [2014] was a commission by Capital Development Board of Illinois Art-In-Architecture program… click here..

 

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Lead with the Heart - by Kara James

Lead with the Heart – by Kara James

 

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Lead with the Heart – by Kara James
2014 / Carved Tree as part of Chicago Tree Project.

Chicago Tree Project: A joint project of Chicago Sculpture International [CSI] and Chicago Park District [CPD]; to turn dead or dying trees that are infested with Emerald Ash Borer or other bugs and diseases into living public art. Apart from Kara James, many other women artists have been commissioned in the Tree Project – Margot McMahon Karen Gubitz, Nicolette Ross, Mia Capodilupo, Vivian Visser and Indira Johnson.

For more.. click here..

 

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TEMPORARY INSTALLATIONS

My focus in the post has been permanent installations. But there are some rotating exhibitions which deserve attention..

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Tire sculptures by Chakaia Booker

Tire sculptures by Chakaia Booker

 

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Tire sculptures by Chakaia Booker
Location: Boeing Galleries at Millennium Park
Temporary Exhibition: April 30, 2016 – April 2018.

Booker began working with rubber tires in the early 1990s and presently continues to work in this medium. The various tread patterns, colors, and widths of the tires possess create a palette for Booker similar to the palette of painter. The tire also represents her socio-economic concerns of working class, factory labor in the industrial environment – the emotional and physical scarring of people. The black tires symbolize the strength of African American identity.

For more.. click here..

 

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Indira Johnson

Ten Thousand Ripples – Indira Johnson

 

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Ten Thousand Ripples – by Indira Johnson
Location: South Diversey Harbor
Fiberglass, resin and concrete
Courtesy of the Artist and Changing Worlds.
Brought by Art in Action: Collaboration between Chicago Park District [CPD], and Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events [DCASE].

To the artist Indira Freitas Johnson, the emerging Buddha sculpture represents a symbol of peace and self-realization. When places in unexpected public spaces, it becomes a global symbol of peace. The installation is an invitation to reflect on the possibility of finding peace in our lives and our communities. The Buddha image serves as a visual platform for the Ten Thousand Ripples [TTR] project, a collaborative civic art and public engagement project, led by Changing Worlds, in partnership with diverse Chicago neighborhoods and many community partners and local artists.

For more.. click here..

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Red Tree - by Ruth Aizuss Migdal

Red Tree – by Ruth Aizuss Migdal

 

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Red Tree – by Ruth Aizuss Migdal
Location: 140 W LaSalle Drive
Description: Stainless Steel / 28′ x 20′ x 12′ / Painted red
Sponsor: Old Town Triangle Association
Brought by Chicago Sculpture Exhibit [CSE].. in collaboration with Chicago Park District [CPD].

Ruth Migdal is famous for human torso, especially female torso in bronze. For the past few years, she has been fabricating in steel, particularly dancing divas in vibrant red! Her sculptures vary in size and scale, ranging from larger then life monumental sculptures, to small scale work of the size of paper weight. Her work has been displayed in exhibitions and galleries all over the country. Chicago Sculpture Exhibit ss an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, which believes in bringing art to the nighborhood. Over the years they have showcased the work of many local artists, including many women sculptors. In 2016 they had work by Jaci Willis, Dusty Folwarczny, Nicole Beck, Janet Austin, Hilde DeBruyne, and Pamela Reithmeier.

 

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WOMEN MADE PUBLIC ART IN CHICAGO

Sky Landing – by Yoko Ono
Agora – by Magdalena Abakanowicz
Helping Hands – by Louis Bourgeois
Monument to the Great Northern Migration – by Alison Saar
Haymarket Memorial – by Mary Brogger
America’s Courtyard – by Denise Milan and Ary Perez
Daphne – by Dessa Kirk
Bust of Sir George Solti
Siblings – by Rosetta
Ben – by Deborah Butterfield
Riverwalk Gateway – by Ellen Lanyon

Elks – by Laura Gardin Fraser
Fawn – by Elisabeth Haseltine Hibbard
Merchild – by Sylvia Shaw Judson

Boy Gardener – by Margot McMahon
Hedgerow – by Lucy Slivinski
Rora – by Ginny Sykes
Binary Project – Lead artist Nicole Beck

TEMPORARY INSTALLATIONS

Tire Sculptures – by Chakaia Booker
Ten Thousand Ripples – Indira Johnson
Red Tree – Ruth Migdal

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1 Comment to “Women Made Public Art in Chicago”

  1. Name* says:

    I came across your site while looking for something else. The images are very compelling and I am going to search out some of this sculpture this summer. Thank you.

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