The Nature of the Place 2005

Portage Park Senior Center

Community Room: porcelain tiles, 48 x 144 inches

City of Chicago commission

The mural illustrates relationships between memory, nature and place.  Scenes of prairie, woods and marshlands evoke Portage Park’s early history.  The canoe in portage position reminds us of the efforts needed to traverse this area before it was developed.  The diver and the pools refer to the park’s special history, when marshland gave way to a swimming hole, a lagoon and eventually a pool good enough and big enough to host Olympic trials.  A boy drinks at a park fountain* while a bicyclist wanders the park’s paths.  The architectural fragments are inspired by buildings around “Six Corners”, an early and lasting economic center in this area.  The Potawatamie design in the ribbon around the planting image calls attention to Portage Park’s original inhabitants’ respect for nature and its recurring growth cycles.  The variations in image size and order in the artwork simulate the capricious nature of memory, which can, in an instant, visit many times and places and emotions.The three smaller ceramic works depict cardinal and squirrels greeting visitors of the park.  Such wildlife, which once lived among the Native Americans, have adjusted to the challenging urban environment. 

Sonata Kazimieraitiene, assistant artist

*The image of the boy at a Portage Park drinking fountain is based on photograph ICHi-26938 by G. B. Seehausen, by permission of the Chicago Historical Society.

Mural Installations
Portage Park Senior Center