Jun 8, 2023 - Things to Do

New environmental artworks pop up across Chicago

Photo of an art piece surrounded by grass along a river

River of Welcome plaza and mosaic planter by Cynthia Weiss and Delilah Salgado, Chicago Public Art Group in Canalport Riverwalk Park. Photo courtesy of Earth Art Chicago

This month, Chicago launched Earth Art, a series of works meant to spark conversations and inspire environmental action.

Why it matters: Art can sometimes reach people with important messages in ways that science and polemics can't.

What they're saying: "Our hope for this project is for these artworks to be an act of inspiration, but also provide renewal in the face of despair around climate change and the environment," project organizer Uzma Noormohamed, of the Illinois Science & Energy Innovation Foundation, tells Axios.

  • "We look to artists to give us hope, inspire us, and help us reveal and process our feelings as we come to terms with an uncertain future."

What's happening: Six of the 12 highlighted works debuted last week, including:

Photo of someone riding a dirt bike on top of a dirt hill
The Schrod site on the Southeast Side is the subject of the documentary "The Hills." Photo courtesy of Earth Art Chicago

The latest: Tonight, Chicagoans can catch a film screening at Calumet Park of "The Hills," which explores toxic slag heaps on the Southeast Side. We talked to filmmaker Ines Sommer about it.

The inspiration: A tour with the Southeast Side Environmental Task Force of the "Schroud property, a 67-acre slag hill [leaching into local water] that has since been declared a Superfund site," Sommer said.

  • "The site is so barren and vast, it felt as if we had landed on Mars."

The aim: "To make viewers appreciate how we are all interconnected — just like our waterways — and that just a few neighborhoods shouldn’t have to shoulder most of our city's environmental burdens."

Stalagmite Creamsicle sculptures by Latham Zearfoss with Anders Zanichkowsky in McKinley Park. Photo courtesy of Earth Art Chicago

What's next: Works from the series continue to roll out this week with:


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more