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Dead Trees Being Turned Into Art Through City Program

By Ted Cox | May 16, 2014 12:12pm | Updated on May 19, 2014 8:51am
 "Flock," by Margot McMahon uses a 125-year-old elm tree in Jackson Park.
"Flock," by Margot McMahon uses a 125-year-old elm tree in Jackson Park.
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City of Chicago

CITY HALL — Dead and dying trees will get a chance to live again through art, thanks to a new city program.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the Chicago Tree Project Friday. It assigns selected artists to work on dead or dying trees and convert them into works of art.

Margot McMahon's "Flock," in a 125-year-old elm tree in Jackson Park, hangs a sculpted owl from the cut-off tree branches along with figures of songbirds in flight.

According to the city, J. Taylor Wallace is carving the entire trunk of a honey locust in a spiral pattern in McGuane Park. The project began Thursday and is expected to take a few weeks to complete.

The overall project, conducted through the Chicago Park District and Chicago Sculpture International, has already selected 10 artist proposals for areas across the city. Other parks targeted include Washington, Marquette, Armour Square, Humboldt, Olympia and Riis.

"Chicago is one of the world’s greatest arts and culture capitals, and every Chicagoan should have the opportunity to experience art and culture, no matter their ZIP code," Emanuel said.

The city previously has launched programs to save trees from the emerald ash borer, and elms have fallen victim to Dutch elm disease. Last month, Emanuel also announced plans to plant 5,400 trees across across the city this year.

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