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New Edgewater Public Art Piece Is Collaboration Between Artist And An Invasive Beetle

Photo: Erik Peterson Website

A new large-scale sculpture called ‘Ashland’ was recently installed in Edgewater bringing another public art piece to the area. The piece was an unusual collaboration between the artist and an invasive insect that has destroyed countless ash trees in both our community and around the country.

The art piece by area resident Erik Peterson was constructed out of ash trees donated by the Chicago Park District’s Department of Forestry which were infected by the Emerald Ash Borer. It was installed in a traffic island at the East end of Thorndale at the lakefront.

The sculpture is not only a piece of art for the public to enjoy, but it is also a utilitarian piece of urban furniture that people can sit on and grab a beautiful lakefront view. However, what makes the piece truly unique is its shape which mimics the winding tunnels that the ash borer’s larvae makes in the cambium layer of the wood, eventually choking off the tree’s new growth and killing it.

“The looping shape I have used for the Ashland bench was actually designed by the invasive pest; the trail of a real ash borer is scaled up to the size of the traffic island,” said Peterson on his website. “This sculpture thus references both the destructive and creative tendencies that are found in nature, and in human nature.”

Known mostly for his wide range in artist styles from large scale urban artwork and neon pieces to edible ice cream sculptures, Peterson often employs a sense of whimsy in his work. His project was commissioned by the 48th Ward as a part of the Year Of Public Art campaign that has recently brought many new works to the Edgewater area.

 


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