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: Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Park District, and Chicago Sculpture International have created opportunities for artists to express themselves. The Chicago Tree Project repurposes condemned trees that would normally be destroyed.
In Nichols Park, I was chosen to carve a tree that was damaged in a storm years ago. I use chainsaws. After seeing the tree in early summer, I submitted two proposals, a wolf and a blue heron. Nichols is a dog friendly park, so a wolf was chosen. People passing by enjoyed the show very much. I stopped work many times to speak with the locals and explain the exercise.
While carving the wolf that faces east to greet the rising moon, another tree became available nearby. That tree was transformed into Ol’ Blue, a blue heron with a fish in his beak. I derive inspiration from the shape of the tree to be carved. It does not take long before I see what “lives” inside. All that remains is the removal of excess material. Special sealers are applied to mitigate decay so the piece may last several years.
A special thanks to Mike Dimitroff, Mrs. Comiskey, Mrs. Franklin, and Ayanna Peters for their help and encouragement.