Monday, August 2, 2010

Artist Statement: A Year in Humboldt Park

Artist Statement:
A Year in Humboldt Park
by Dina Petrakis

I grew up in Freeport, Illinois and moved to Chicago after finishing college. I’ve worked in the construction industry since 1984, doing many different kinds of projects. I love the process of transformation. Every project is different, but each builds on what’s there and the work already done -- you can’t do drywall before the infrastructure is complete.

I discovered Humboldt Park about 15 years ago when I was living in Logan Square. In the years since then it has undergone its own transformation - restoration of the Boathouse, a huge investment in stone work and native plantings, and recreation of Jens Jensen’s Prairie River. The improvements, or maybe just the time I have spent there, made it precious to me- far more than just a place to exercise. I am nurtured there, observing the transformation of the Park’s abundant natural resources through the seasons and over the years.

Long a fan of the naturalist Aldo Leopold, I wanted to document a year in the Park to create a visual source for the city dweller that Leopold’s Sand County Almanac has been to me. The vision of pioneering Prairie School landscape architect Jens Jensen, now a maintained city park, isn’t exactly nature, - but it is MY nature, OUR nature as city dwellers, and it vastly improves the quality of my life. It achieves for me what Jensen described so beautifully, “In the work of nature, man feels the Creator’s mysterious power. Here he first recognizes his own limitations and his own significance… In all its various moods, during all seasons of the year, it brings to us the message of the infinite.” Jens Jensen, Siftings.

My year spent photographing Humboldt Park furthered my love of that singular place and my desire to celebrate it. Migrating birds, native plants and trees, stately structures in the beauty of all seasons moved me to share it with Chicago. I’m truly thrilled that A Year in Humboldt Park will be exhibited at the Boathouse, 1359 N. Sacramento, from August 11 through October 29.

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