When Yoko Ono announced her intent to create a piece of public art for Chicago, few details were released beyond the title, "Skylanding." More than a year later, the sculpture was unveiled in the city's Jackson Park with music, dancers and acclaim.
“Skylanding is place where the sky and earth meet and create a seed to learn about the past and come together to create a future of peace and harmony, with nature and each other," Ono said. “Peace among all people and nations begins with peace in our hearts, streets and parks.”
Marking Ono's first permanent public installation in the Americas, it symbolizes a "lotus of hope to usher in a new era of peace," she said.
The sculpture consists of "12 large steel lotus petals with mounds to its north and south forming a yin-yang pattern." It's situated in a section of Jackson Park known as the Garden of the Phoenix, honoring relations between Japan and the United States.
The site used to house the Phoenix Pavilion, a structure erected by Japan for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, but it was destroyed by arson in 1946.
When Yono visited the space three years ago, she was inspired to create a piece to stand in place of the Phoenix Pavilion that looked toward what the future will bring for the city and beyond.
The installation aims to compel visitors to make a connection to both the earth and the sky, according to Ono, whose works of art often contain themes about uniting seeming opposites, particularly the East and the West.
She partnered with Project 120, a public-private partnership with the Chicago Park District, to create it.
The sculpture can be seen at the north end of the 15-acre Wooded Island in Jackson Park.
“With great works of art like Skylanding, we provide residents and visitors growing access to arts and culture in neighborhoods across Chicago, “ Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “We look forward to continued work with Project 120 on improving our historic parks and bringing history, art and nature together in our public spaces.”
Ono has installed other well-known public art exhibits around the world, including the "Imagine Peace Tower" in Reykjavik, Iceland.