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Heartwood will be located near the Judd Goldman Community Sailing Center south of Solidarity Drive.
Heartwood will be located near the Judd Goldman Community Sailing Center south of Solidarity Drive.
Photo: Mayor's Office

Installation increases public access to a popular art piece from The Morton Arboretum and is a step toward greater activation ambitions

CHICAGO – Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Superintendent Rosa Escareño are pleased to announce today Daniel Popper’s Heartwood sculpture from The Morton Arboretum’s recently concluded Human+Nature exhibition will have a temporary home on the Museum Campus starting this March. Recalling the inner rings at the center of a tree trunk, Heartwood offers a lyrical meditation on the interconnectedness of humans and nature. While the work might first appear fractured—with the bust of a woman cleaved in two—on closer looking, a resonant parallel becomes apparent. A cross-section of a trunk reveals a pattern strikingly similar to that of a human fingerprint.

“This installation presents a wonderful opportunity to make beautiful art easily accessible to all Chicagoans,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Bringing back the Heartwood sculpture for an encore is an exciting step toward activating our iconic Museum Campus year-round while also promoting the arts.”

“The Chicago Park District is excited to partner with the city to showcase Daniel Popper’s Heartwood on the Museum Campus,” said Superintendent Escareño. This magnificent work’s themes of nature and introspection fit perfectly amidst Chicago’s world-class museums, beautiful lakefront and sprawling landscape.  Chicago's parks offer an outstanding collection of public art, including nearly 300 fountains, monuments, and sculptures, located across the city. The temporary addition of Heartwood furthers our goals of showcasing diverse pieces in our parks and making art experiences accessible to both residents and visitors.”

Daniel Popper is a multidisciplinary artist known globally for his larger-than-life sculptures. From Cape Town, South Africa, he is most acclaimed for his massive and spectacular public art installations, including the memorial sculpture for the Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology, and sculptures for popular music festivals, art exhibitions, and cultural events around the world, such as the Boom Festival in Portugal and Rainbow Serpent Festival in Australia. Through his art, Popper encourages viewers to consider their own relationship with nature and to recognize the essential connection between all living things.

"When we express ourselves fully, we are closest to nature,” said Popper. “I’m excited to partner with the City to stage Heartwood in a place so aligned to that vision.”

“Mayor Lightfoot has been a strong advocate for the arts in Chicago,” said Erin Harkey, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). “We appreciate her support for this highly visible artwork and look forward to creating similar opportunities to showcase local artists in the future.”

The full eight-sculpture Human+Nature exhibition debuted for the first time in May 2021 and ran through February 2023 at The Morton Arboretum. Amy Scott, head of exhibitions at the Arboretum, said that Popper's work resonated with guests from around the world. “Human+Nature inspired people to think about the ways people and trees are interdependent,” Scott noted. “The tree-filled backdrops of the Arboretum provided beautiful settings for Popper's nature-themed sculptures, and we are pleased to see Heartwood now reflect these messages on the Museum Campus." The Arboretum is preparing to open its next exhibition, Of the Earth, by Olga Ziemska, on May 26.

Heartwood will be located near the Judd Goldman Community Sailing Center south of Solidarity Drive from March 2023 to March 2024. A public dedication event celebrating this installation will be held with Daniel Popper at the site March 23rd, 2023 at 1pm.

For more information about the art installations at the Park District, click here