PILSEN — A Buddha head representing peace was bashed open at El Jardin de las Mariposas over Easter weekend.
The Buddha head at the park at 1835 S. Carpenter St. is part of the Ten Thousand Ripples project, which installed the heads all over the city as symbols of peace.
Indira Johnson, the artist who created the Buddha heads, said while several of the heads have been tagged with graffiti, this is the first time a head has been destroyed.
"The other side of peace is violence which has been prevalent in so many of our communities," she said. "It is interesting that someone would feel that much anger. That he would vandalize, to me, seems hard to understand."
Johnson said she thinks it's up to the community to decide the response to the vandalism.
Diana Pando, a spokeswoman for ElevArte, the youth arts program that installed the heads in Pilsen and Little Village, said while she was upset by the destruction, she still felt empathy for the person or persons who committed the act.
"I’m disappointed. We did just have our peace march there. We’re still sending lots of good energy to whoever did that, because obviously it's one of those things they felt very strongly they had to do," she said.
On March 21, ElevArte led a youth peace march from Dvorak Park, 1119 W. Cullerton Ave., to El Jardin de las Mariposas to bless the two Buddha heads in those locations.
Artist Alfonso "Piloto" Nieves, who teaches at ElevArte, said the damage to the Buddha saddened him.
"Ignorance is the worst weapon, the worst threat that we face as humanity. That’s the challenge that we face as human beings," he said.
Nieves — who was already working with one of his classes on a sculpture to complement the Buddha head at Gads Hill — said he wants to add something artistic to the damaged Buddha head as a message to the vandals.
"And if they break it again, let’s make it again. Because we want peace, you know? I think it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate what this is about," he said.