Public sculpture installed on Northwest Side
by KEVIN GROSS
A new sculpture was installed at the plaza bounded by Central and Foster avenues and Northwest Highway on May 25.
The red 30-foot long, 19-foot tall sculpture is titled "Weighing on the Scales of Nature," and features metal pillars and a cluster of red houses that hang in the air.
"The piece relates to how our identities are tied to our belongings such as houses, yet we still depend so much on nature to give us places where we are allowed to exist," sculpture artist Jorge Leyva said.
Leyva, who is from Joplin, Mo., said that his artistic perspective was heavily influenced by an EF5-rated tornado that destroyed much of the city on May 22, 2011, killing 158, injuring about 1,150 and financially ranking as the costliest tornado in U.S. history.
"After the tornado, suddenly social and political issues seemed not as important to me. We lost belongings, identity, people had to rebuild," Leyva said. "But in a strange way it was a rebirth, of sorts, for those lucky to make it through. It reminded me that things are impermanent."
The sculpture will be on display for a year as part of the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit. It is one of the nonprofit organization’s 56 sculptures scattered in public sites through downtown, north and northwest neighborhoods each spring.
"The program started out as just eight sculptures in Lincoln Park, and it’s since really grown beyond in the program’s 17 years," said Jan Cullerton of the Chicago Sculpture Exhibit.
A jury that reviews an artist’s history and proposals selects sculptures each year. All works are available for purchase following the display unless otherwise noted by the artist.
The sculptures are not limited to Chicago-based artists and works are funded in part by a sponsor. Real estate company Sterling Bay sponsors Leyva’s work in Jefferson Park.
Other sculptures slated for the Northwest Side will include a piece by artist Janet Austin in the Six Corners shopping district and a sculpture by artist Bernard Williams across the street from Leyva’s work.