Richard Hunt: Inspiring Us All to Take Flight
World-renowned sculptor and artist Richard Hunt was born and raised in the Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Richard’s passion for the arts stemmed from his childhood, during which he spent the majority of his time enjoying museums and opera performances. Going on to lead an impressive career with over 150 large-scale installations around the world, we’re thrilled to announce that Richard Hunt will add another piece to his portfolio: a sculpture for the Obama Presidential Center.
Hunt’s sculpture, ‘Book Bird,’ will be placed in the Library Reading Garden outside of the new Chicago Public Library branch on the Obama Presidential Center campus. ‘Book Bird’ will depict a bird taking flight from a book to illuminate how reading and learning allows readers to enter new places and fly free.
If you’re feeling inspired to see more of Richard Hunt’s sculptures, the map below features a selection of works that can be found across Chicago. Happy “Hunt”ing! 😉
1. Light of Truth
Located in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Light of Truth is a tribute to activist and journalist Ida B. Wells. Not far from where Wells lived for most of her life, the abstract form stands on three columns with a torch-like figure placed above levitating steps. A plaque on the sculpture features a quote from Wells reading: “What is or should be a woman? …A strong, bright presence, thoroughly imbued with a sense of her mission on earth and a desire to fill it.”
2. Jacob’s Ladder
You can find Jacob’s Ladder inside the Carter Woodson Library on the South Side of Chicago. Comprised of two pieces of welded bronze and brass, Jacob’s Ladder sits at an impressive height overlooking the library’s foyer.
The idea for the sculpture originated from the well-known African American spiritual called “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.”
3. Slabs of the Sunburnt West
Inspired by Illinoisan Carl Sandburg’s poem of the same name, Slabs of the Sunburnt West is a massive bronze ground plate located on the University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus.
The 30×30 foot sculpture was commissioned to honor Sandburg. It is made up of a bronze ground plate with five protruding slabs.
4. Farmer’s Dream
Farmer’s Dream is made of welded cortex steel and weighs in around 800 pounds. You can find the sculpture at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art now, but the impressive piece of art once visited the White House during President Clinton’s administration.
The bold sculpture was inspired by Hunt’s father and grandfather’s lives as sharecroppers in Georgia.
5. Eagle Columns
If you haven’t visited Chicago’s Jonquil Park—located in Lincoln Park—Hunt’s Eagle Columns is a great reason to make a special visit. The contemporary monument depicts two abstract eagles rising from the bronze pylons beneath them, and memorializes politician John Peter Altgeld and poet Vachel Lindsay, two people who played a prominent role in Illinois history.
Stainless steel Freeform is mounted on the exterior facade of the State of Illinois Building. At a glance the statue may appear small, but it stretches over two-and-a-half stories and weighs over three tons. The curved lines embody an active flame, free of restricted or stiff lines.
7. We Will
The next time you find yourself in downtown Chicago, look out for Hunt’s We Will. Located on the corner of Randolph and Garland Court, the stainless steel form sits at an impressive height of 35 feet. Hunt believes a work of this size should “integrate into the site in a harmonious way,” so pedestrians may easily pass, while admiring the impressive public art.
To add a little delight to the next flight you have to catch out of Midway International Airport, be sure to keep an eye out for Flightforms. The contemporary, upward-pointing piece was installed in 2001 and suggests a defiance of gravity and wonder. The public installation reaches 30 feet high and is made out of welded stainless steel.
Upcoming – The Obama Presidential Center
Richard Hunt refers to the sculpture he is creating for the Obama Presidential Center as Book Bird. The piece will feature a book with a singing bird emerging from it, and it will be located in the Library Reading Garden beside the Center’s new branch of the Chicago Public Library. Richard hopes that people will see the piece “as something that encapsulates the progress one can make through reading and study.”