Jackson Language Academy Playsculpture, 1990, solid masonry construction covered by ceramic tile mosaic, by Henri Marquet, Cythia Weiss, Nina Smoot-Cain, and Mirtes Zwierzynski.

Community-built sculptures create places for community living—a griot’s throne from which elders share stories with neighborhood children, stepping stones to a decorative bench encouraging contemplation in a quiet corner of an urban community garden, a mosaic covered table and chairs inviting a game of checkers, a sphinx-like tiger for clamoring on during recess, or a seating installation designed to get folks to look at each other and thus stimulate community conversation.

Using humble materials such as cement, tile, brick, concrete block, and stone, accomplished community sculptors lead participants in dramatically and permanently transforming community spaces. Lending itself to intergenerational work and to utilizing a diverse set of skills and talents, community sculpture is a powerful symbol of a community’s capacity to shape its destiny through literally shaping the space in which people work and play.

“Community Artists as Space Designers” recounts the history of significant developments in community sculpture in Chicago. “Chicago Public Art Group’s "Questions for Designing Community Space” is a comprehensive outline for beginning a space design process. “Collaborative Concrete Gardens” introduces you to sculptor, Phil Schuster, a magician with concrete, who shares practical techniques for creating elaborate benches, planters, wall reliefs, seating, and 3-D sculptures in cast and carved concrete. In the Sculpture Portfolio, you’ll find a diverse array of sculptural projects that create dramatic places for community interaction.