Garfield Park: Zellij Fountain
Moroccan artisans Said Ben Adiba, Hassan Jemghili, and Jawad Rizki created this fountain for the Garfield Park Conservatory in 2003. The piece was a gift from the Chicago Casablanca Sister City Committee and Le Cedre School in Casablanca, Morocco. It represents a traditional eleventh century Moorish technique in which handmade terra cotta tiles called “zellij” are cut and arranged. More than a thousand years later, Spaniards and North Africans continue to rely on this technique of tilework. It is used in both indoor and outdoor locations and is appreciated for its beauty and ability to withstand variable weather conditions.
The artists produced the tilework for this fountain on site in one of Garfield Park’s old horse sheds. This process enabled students and park visitors to watch as they created the fountain. For several weeks in 2003, the Moroccan artisans meticulously arranged each piece to form circular, geometric patterns that represent flowers and other plants. After the fountain was completed, Chicago Park District staff members carefully moved it from the horse sheds to the Garfield Park Conservatory’s Horticulture Hall.