Lincoln Park: Alternatives
This inspiring mosaic enlivens the south wall of the Margate Park Playground field house. The work was a collaboration between the Chicago Park District and Alternatives, Inc., a nonprofit organization on Chicago’s northeast side committed to youth development through programs, counseling, and leadership activities. Additional support for the mosaic was provided by Mayor Daley’s YouthNet, Chicago Department of Human Services, and Beacon Street Gallery and Theatre.
Lead artist Ginny Sykes worked with a group of local children to create the mosaic, which is indirectly mounted on the side of the field house. Sykes encouraged the children to think of images that expressed their personal identities, hopes, and dreams. The kids used both cut and broken tiles to execute their designs.
The resulting composition combines vivid geometric patterns and depictions of people, sporting equipment, and flowers. Multiple heads shown in profile represent a variety of skin colors, suggesting the diversity of the surrounding Uptown community. Just to the right of center, two profiles (one beige, one brown) are portrayed face to face in an intimate pose. The word LOVE appears directly below them, extending beyond the bottom of the mosaic and acting as a banner for compassion among all races. Other words—including YOUTH, HOPES, DREAMS, IDEAS, and PEACE—frame the outer edges of the mosaic. These terms provide a literal description of the themes found in the composition, including the hope for peace, which is further symbolized by three white doves set against a blue sky.
In 2004, Sykes was one of four artists who helped create a unique, custom-designed play environment just east of the field house. The playground features an array of sculptures, mosaics, and interactive artworks that explore the theme of animals and plants in water life. Sykes contributed several horizontal mosaics that are incorporated into the planters. Executed in roughly the same style as Alternatives, the playground mosaics are a nice complement to the earlier work.