“I grew up in a Midwestern inner city neighborhood and as a child was fascinated by unexpected interminglings of nature and the built and cultivated environment. Beautiful weeds and beautifully tended plantings both provided experiences of nature in city life.
“Cannas & Corn, a public art project at the Central Park Station in Chicago is a permanent commemoration of an ephemeral public art form—the community garden. As the lead artist, I began the design process by interviewing dedicated gardeners from the North Lawndale neighborhood who shared memories about learning to garden as youths and about their current efforts to create beauty in neglected places.
“This mosaic was fabricated in an intergenerational community workshop to ‘plant the seeds’ of mosaic making skills in the community. Each participant created a miniature mosaic in tile identical to that of the main project, bringing the energy of the public mosaic into homes throughout the area, serving as a reminder of the collective origins of this public artwork.”
About the Artist
Olivia Gude, a member of the Commission on the Arts, is an artist and educator recognized for community public art mural and mosaic projects, and a professor of Art Education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Cannas & Corn: A Garden Community, is located at the CTA Central Park Pink Line Station in Chicago
Commissioned by the Chicago Transit Authority and the City of Chicago Public Art Program
Lead Artist: Olivia Gude
Assistants: Moses Ball, Rahmaan Barnes, Kristina Rodriguez, Julia Sowles, William Whelan
Intergenerational Community Mosaic Team: Angelina Bravo, Crystal Berry, Gerald Earles, Lorean Earles, Dwight Jackson, Antuan Johnson, Kelley Leung, Jason Matusiak, Adele Moss, Joann Nance, Ivan Ocampo, Pauline Person, Jon Pounds, Kenneth Richmond, Loris Scott, Vandna Sinha, Daphne Smith
Design Support: North Lawndale Greening Committee and the North Lawndale Small Grants Human Development Corporation organized by Velma Johnson, Ida Walker, and Blanche Suggs. Community gardeners: Lorean Earles, Sister Patricia Kerz, Velma Johnson, Valerie Leonard, Zoann Nance, Dorothea Penn, Pauline Person, Loris Scott, Betty Swan, and Gladys Woodson contributed ideas and images for the mosaic.
Garden image ideas developed by 3rd and 7th grade art classes of Crown Community Academy with the support of art teacher Jazmin Jones. Seed packet people drawings by students Jerrell Franklin, Shannon Owens, Nicole Smith, and Marquis Williams.
Supporters: Gallery 37 After School Matters, Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, LISC (Local Initiative Service Corporation), St. Gregory Episcopal School
Project management by Chicago Public Art Group
Commission on the Arts
The Commission - drawing on the expertise of its members who are artists, scholars, activists, and leaders, as well as the input of people across the country who participated in listening sessions - dedicated itself to recognizing and supporting the essential role of the arts and artists in American life.