Seward Park: The Promise of Summer
This colorful Venetian glass tile mosaic was created during the renovation of Seward Park in the late 1990s. Located on the field house’s east exterior wall, the work was made possible through the support of the MacArthur Foundation, Gallery 37, Department of Cultural Affairs, the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, and the now closed Beacon Street Gallery.
Lead artist Patricia M. Murphy and assistant artists Margaret Jo Feldman and Patti Adachi worked with a group of local teenagers to create the mosaic. This group included residents of the Cabrini Green House Project and students from Walter Payton College Prep High School. The Seward Park panel depicts a beautiful yellow Bearded iris. This early blooming flower is a harbinger of summer, a fitting depiction for a mosaic titled The Promise of Summer. The mosaic is meant as a metaphor for the promise of a better future for the community. Set against a dappled blue and green background, the mosaic’s vibrant bloom fills almost the entire composition. Thin contour lines of black tiles delineate the flower. The cascading petals are rendered in fiery tones of red and orange that intermingle with soft yellows to create a variegated effect.
The style of this mosaic bears a striking resemblance to Murphy’s other works for Chicago parks, especially Lily, Birth-Rebirth at the Clarendon Park Community Center in the Uptown neighborhood. Clarendon Park's multipanel mosaic highlights the beauty of another symbolic flower: the perennial lily, which signifies the promise of rebirth and rejuvenation. Though similar, the Seward Park artwork is composed of a single panel.