Ronan Park Sculpture Garden

About the Sculpture Garden

Six sculptures were installed in Ronan Park in September of 2021. They reflect healing, peace and unity. The North River Commission sponsored the Ronan Park Sculpture Garden and worked in partnership with Chicago Sculpture International, the River Park Advisory Council and the Chicago Park District.

Ronan Park is located in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago, one of the city’s most diverse areas. Ronan Park is also proximite to the National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial, which is dedicated to remembering and healing.

The Ronan Park Sculpture Garden is a rotating exhibition with current sculptures scheduled to be in place for two years. If you are interested in supporting the Sculpture Garden, and further improvements to Ronan Park proposed in NRC's Confluence project, which envisions long term capital improvements to the area. Find out more here!

History

In 2011, NRC and community partners conceived of the Ronan Parks Multicultural Sculpture Park and Healing Garden. The original goals were to create a place to find beauty and inspiration, take refuge and find a safe haven for renewal and quiet meditation.

The Sculpture Garden rose out of dozens of community meetings over the course of more than a year. North River Commission, the Cambodian Association of Illinois, Northeastern Illinois University, and Lawrence Hall Youth Services were partners in the effort. As designed at the time Ronan Park would contain a sculpture park, healing gardens, a children’s garden, lotus garden, labyrinth, a new bike path that joins the North River Branch path, and a walking path shaped like the infinity symbol. Yoga classes and music programming were also envisioned for park visitors.

While Ronan Park is in the midst of a redesign through the Confluence project, the Sculpture Garden is being reinstalled in Fall of 2021.

The Sculptures

Natella

Overseer

16’ x 3’ x 3’, cast bronze and cast aluminum

Dora Natella

"I was inspired to create this sculpture Overseer after attending a performance of butoh, a Japanese style of dance. The dancers, almost nude, paint their bodies white and move gracefully and slowly across the stage. I was stunned by how the form of the body, once the color was obscured, become so universal—a temple for healing and meditation. My model was an African American young woman who became the subject of various sculptures. Standing atop a large tree trunk, a metaphor for tradition and strength, she seems to be ascending into the sky through a gesture of rebirth and transformation." - Dora Natella

Alfano 2

Beacon

100" x 36" x 36", bronze, aluminum, granite base

Michael Alfano

In Beacon, a profile of a child’s face represents the flame of a candle. The base of the sculpture forms the stylized candle and the child’s face rises from it, driving out the darkness with their light. The hard, bronze material is designed to form a light, wispy profile almost blowing in the wind. The sculpture is inspired by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

 

Austin

Ephemeral, Immortal

Janet Austin

11’ x 13’ x 10’, stainless steel, copper, fiberglass tape, concrete, glass mosaic, blown glass, safety glass

The sculpture celebrates life, being both ephemeral and immortal. In all cultures since the dawn of humanity dragonflies are featured in art, literature, folklore and myths. They represent positive change, adaptability, transformation and hope for all creatures to coexist in an enlightened world. Their sensitivity to habitat quality and their amphibious life cycle make dragonflies indicators of clean water and healthy ecosystems, well suited for evaluating environmental changes.

 

happy family

Happy Family

102” x 46” x 45”, Steel and Fiberglass

Shencheng Xu

"My personal experience determines the diversity in my work. Both living and studying in China and the United States have had a profound impact on my work and philosophy. My sculptures combine traditional and non-traditional elements to explore the relationship between nature and humanity. However, I am also concerned about the cultural differences between the East and the West. I hope that my sculptures can break these barriers and differences, so that the audience can experience more of the connection between man and nature, and deepen mutual understanding and tolerance." - Shencheng Xu

Johnson

Life Projection

67” x 38” x 11”, Ceramic, stains, oxides, rebar

Indira Johnson

"Our deepest roots are in nature and no matter who we are we remain permanently linked to all creation. I use patterns derived from nature to create a unique graphic character that reflects diverse cultures and ethnicities and generates a sense of place. When presented as a negative shape, the figure in my sculpture invites viewers to project their own vision with its dreams and challenges, hopes and aspirations into that space." - Indira Johnson

Willing

Metro and Orbit

Metro (97” x 45” x 34”), Orbit (60” x 22” x 41”), Welded steel

Todd Willing

"My piece relates to healing by way of happiness. I created this piece intending to make people smile and feel good. I believe that anybody would be able to relate to Metro and Orbit. These two are “helper robots,” and I think every culture would want to go on an adventure with them." - Todd Willing

Help Fund Public Art

Arts and culture are powerful, cross-cutting aspects of community development. The NRC Arts Committee supports arts and culture in our service area as a complementary effort to our community and economic development goals. Cultural spaces can anchor neighborhoods and commercial corridors. Public art and cultural events can be vehicles for community cultural expression, and help to create vibrant spaces that connote feelings of belonging to residents and engender community pride and stewardship.

NRC's work supports a robust network of Arts & Culture in the communities we serve. Help us continue this work with a donation to NRC!

Thank you to our Ronan Park Sculpture Garden Partners & Supporters!

Chicago Sculpture International

River Park Advisory Council & Chicago Park District

National Cambodian Heritage Museum

and Killing Fields Memorial