Janet Austin and Emily Moorhead-Wallace reveal Nestful

Chicago Sculpture International and The Chicago Park District announce a new Chicago Tree Project installation in Lincoln Park.

Chicago Sculpture International member artists Janet Austin and Emily Moorhead-Wallace are collaborating with the Chicago Park District on a pollinator support tree sculpture.

Chicago, IL (October 28, 2021) – This month artists Janet Austin and Emily Moorhead-Wallace reveal their completed tree habitat sculpture, Nestful, located across from the Farm-in-the-Zoo in Lincoln Park. The sculpture is supported by the Chicago Park District and artist group Chicago Sculpture International in their collaborative venture, the Chicago Tree Project. Reclaimed and scrap material from the artists’ studios as well as donated material from furniture makers Norman Leigh Design make up the artwork’s 190 installed birdhouses.

This permanent artwork will be on display throughout the remaining life of the tree. A free audio guide of the tree is available on the digital application Otocast.

About the sculpture

Nestful lives in an oak tree that is over 100 years old and has reached the end of its lifespan. The tree is breaking down around previous damage and losing the ability to support itself due to the loss of foliage for hydration and food. This tree will slowly collapse under its weight and crumble to become the nutrients for fauna, flora, and other future trees.

Located on the vibrant urban lakeshore and similar to the buildings that surround it, this artwork supports high density living. To support the tree’s changing state, the artists increased habitats for native bird and insect species. Houses are made of reclaimed and repurposed lumber with the ideal dimensions for various birds including chickadees, nuthatches, swallows, wrens, woodpeckers, warblers, flickers, starlings, sparrows, flycatchers, bluebirds, and titmice.
The birdhouse sculpture supports increased biodiversity, reflecting the city’s varied residents. The artists hope Nestful will provide shelter over the winter of 2021 and they look for family nesting next spring and for many springs to come.

About The Chicago Tree Project https://www.chicagotreeproject.org/ 

The Chicago Tree Project was started in 2014 when the Chicago Park District was faced with the question of what to do with thousands of trees that had been infected with the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect encouraged by climate change that has been destroying millions of trees in North America for the last ten years.  The Park District approached Chicago Sculpture International (CSI), and together they created a program that would give some of these sick and dying trees a second life as a work of vibrant public art.

Artists have addressed the trees in a variety of methods, with traditional carving and various media that have been integrated into the trees.  The resulting tree sculptures have been wide ranging in subject matter as well, addressing scientific, spiritual and environmental themes.  These sculptures offer unique and often unexpected encounters for visitors to Chicago parks. As long as they remain secure, the transformed trees remain standing.