New AIDS Garden Chicago Unveils 30-foot-high lakeside Self-Portrait by Keith Haring
By CGN STAFF VIA PR
The Chicago Parks Foundation has completed the first phase of the new AIDS Garden Chicago with the unveiling of a specially-commissioned 30-foot-high sculpture,Self-Portrait, by iconic HIV/AIDS activist and artist, the late Keith Haring. AIDS Garden Chicago will be the city’s first public monument to memorialize the early days of Chicago’s HIV epidemic and to honor those who continue to fight against the disease today. The new 2.5-acre public lakefront garden will be located along Lake Michigan just south of Belmont Harbor, at the original location of the ‘Belmont Rocks,’ a space where the local gay community gathered between the 1960s and 1990s.
"The fight against HIV/AIDS represents more than a health epidemic: it symbolizes a time in our history when the LGBTQ+ and ally communities came together in the face of tragedy,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "We lost countless neighbors and friends and relatives over the years, but we have made significant strides in combatting the virus. What was one of the darkest moments of the 20th century has given way to a blooming garden of hope and love; this new AIDS Garden Chicago will serve as a permanent reminder of how far we have come and as a way to honor those who continue the work of getting to zero new HIV infections.”
“The Chicago Parks Foundation is so honored to be a part of this historic and legacy project for the city and all the communities and individuals who have been affected and still are living with HIV/AIDS. We are far from eradicating the disease, but this garden and iconic Keith Haring sculpture will serve as a beacon of hope and unity for all. This is truly a park with a purpose and a message,” said Chicago Parks Foundation Executive Director Willa Lang.
“We have worked closely with some of our longtime community leaders, held meetings with various community groups and are now excited to start phase one of this overdue project,” said Alderman Tom Tunney (44). “Self-Portrait’s new home at AIDS Garden Chicago, in the 44th Ward, is a small but powerful way to continue talking about the epidemic as we fight to bring both HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths to zero.”
Bold, bright green and nearly three stories high, Self-Portrait will be the largest iteration of this popular sculpture that has ever been fabricated, and the Chicago Parks Foundation expects it to be the Garden’s signature anchor and gathering point. Working with the Chicago Park District and designed by landscape architects Design Workshop, AIDS Garden Chicago is set to be complete in 2020 and will include unique areas designed for reflection, education, honor, and pride. Visitors will be guided with markers and milestones through a variety of intimate and collective garden spaces to be coordinated and maintained by community gardeners still in formation. The garden will provide a sensory nature experience, including a grove of Gingko trees and a perennial garden of natural plantings at the entrance. A serpentine path will be the site for future temporary art installations organized by community partners.
Self-Portrait is provided to AIDS Garden Chicago through a generous gift from the Keith Haring Foundation with personal financial support from Alderman Tom Tunney that was matched by the Alphawood Foundation Chicago. Chicago's Rosenthal Fine Art facilitated the conversation with the Haring Foundation.
Keith Haring (1958-1990) generously contributed his talents and resources to numerous causes. In 1989, Haring established a foundation to ensure that his philanthropic legacy would continue indefinitely. The Keith Haring Foundation supports arts and educational institutions by funding exhibitions, educational programs, and publications that serve to contextualize and illuminate the artist’s work and philosophy.
More information on AIDS Garden Chicago can be found at AIDSgardenchicago.org.
Sculpture credit: Keith Haring Foundation