Public art installation depicts how industry and humans shaped Chicago’s Southeast Side
The Chicago Park District today announced the opening of The South Works Deep Geological Study, Chicago artist Stella Brown’s public art installation piece examines how industry and humans have shaped Chicago’s Southeast Side. Steelworkers Park is transformed into an open-air living natural history museum for visitors to view and contemplate the geological history of the US Steel Complex known as South Works as of June 16. The public artwork will be unveiled during a family-friendly event with activities and light snacks on Saturday, June 16 at Steelworkers Park, located at East 87th St., at 2 p.m.
The South Works Deep Geological Study is an artistic representation of Chicago-based artist Stella Brown’s research and analysis of the industrialization of Lake Michigan’s south shore, the development of the Southeast Chicago community, and the environmental and ecological effects of industry on the site and its surrounding communities.
“We are pleased to provide local and international artists with opportunities to activate our neighborhood parks with engaging public artworks that become a part of the visual and cultural fabric of the community,” said Chicago Park District CEO & Superintendent Michael P. Kelly. “Forging long-term creative partnerships with artists make the Chicago Park District’s ultimate goal of providing public art in all of its parks achievable.”
The purpose of the project is to bring to light the South Works site as man-made land, the roles that Chicagoans have played in the creation of this place, and their participation in the evolution of this site into a new community space as a public park.
Artist Stella Brown explained her excitement about the project, “I came into this project wanting to learn about the site's material history, but in the process of doing research the Southeast side of Chicago has revealed itself to be such a welcoming community full of people who really care about the Calumet region's history, ecology, future success and preservation and I'm so grateful to have been given access to the place.”
During the opening ceremony and throughout the summer, the public is invited to explore geological materials and historical documents that unearth the history of the park and the role that industry and humans played in shaping this unique landscape.
The piece emboldens the public to contemplate the relationship between humans and nature through a creative and playful installation composed of the iron detritus, coke, limestone, concrete and iron ore pellets that litter the site. This hands-on exhibit encourages visitors to inspect and analyze the materials that the artist has collected and identified, and selected to put on display.
Steelworkers Park sits on a 16.5-acre site previously part of the US Steel Complex known as South Works, the site was recently transformed into an attractive landscape with natural areas, trees, walking paths and exquisite views of Lake Michigan.
For more details, visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/southworksdeepgeologicalstudy and stellajbrown.com.
Chicago's parks are the settings for a world-class collection of nearly 300 fountains, monuments, and sculptures. In 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District's public art initiative celebrated the citywide Year of Public Art (YOPA) with the installation of 52 new works of public art in over 40 parks across the city. This year, the Park District will install more than 30 new, public art pieces citywide.
About Stella Brown
Stella Brown is a Chicago based artist and curator. Her interdisciplinary research-based art practice explores narratives within natural history, geology, and culture using modes of collection, documentation and display appropriated from natural history museums, scientific collections and the model of the store. Her recent work explores what it means to enter the Anthropocene epoch by applying the concept not only to geology, but to all aspects of the natural world and human culture. She has shown work at Goldfinch Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Triumph, Slow Pony Projects and Comfort Station in Chicago and the at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has presented curatorial projects with Efrain Lopez Gallery and Shoot the Lobster, among others. She is currently pursuing her MFA at the University of Illinois at Chicago.