The Chicago Tree Project (CTP) is a collaborative initiative between the Chicago Park District and Chicago Sculpture International. The CTP is an annual citywide effort to transform sick and dying trees into vibrant public art rather than cutting them down. Using art as a vessel for public engagement, sculptors transform trees into fun and whimsical experiences for the greater Chicago community. Each year, twelve new trees are installed throughout the city. A complete map and more information can be found at www.chicagotreeproject.org
Artist's Statement: To make the Shelf Fungi, I collected weeping willow shoots from a park on the south side of Chicago with the help of the Chicago Park District. Each shoot was 5-8 feet long, perfect for weaving. The willow was woven into the shape of very large shelf fungi. I abstracted the mushroom by making it huge, the largest being more than 2 feet across. The weaving process took a couple of months to complete all of the mushrooms. They were then painted in an orange color that some mushrooms are in nature. The completed mushrooms were clustered on the north side of the tree in a natural random pattern as they would be had they grown there.
People walk past natural elements every day without noticing them. With my sculpture, I try to bring attention to natural life forms, challenging the viewer’s beliefs of nature. By making the shelf fungi huge on the side of the tree, I draw the attention of the viewers, allowing them to consider what they know about nature. Hopefully they will also learn to value the natural elements they see every day at Green Briar Park and other parts of Chicago.
Neighborhood residents were very welcoming when I was installing the sculpture. This has been a great experience. I am glad my sculpture is so welcome in its new home.