Andrew Jackson Language Academy Playsculpture

Title:  Andrew Jackson Language Academy Playsculpture

Site:  Andrew Jackson Language Academy
1340 W. Harrison Street, Chicago

Artists:  Henri Marquet, Nina Cain, Cynthia Weiss, and Mirtes Zwierzynski

Assistants: Patrick Gibourny

Community Participants:John Pitman Weber, Hector Duarte, Fred Arroyo, and Rachel Arato, students and parents of AJLA, Chicago Tile Setters Union Local 67, and other CPAG artists.

Sponsors:  Chicago Public Art Group and Andrew Jackson Language Academy

Year:  1990

Scale:  Bear- 8 x 6 x 5 feet; Tiger- 5.5 x 6 x 12 feet; Snake- 2 x 2 x 150 feet

Materials: Broken ceramic tile, glazed brick, and dyed cement

Information:  Marquet, a visiting French sculptor, teamed with CPAG artists, schoolchildren, and parents to create a fanciful play space with a climbable bear, tiger, and coiled snake. The animals were selected because they appeared in a book in which different languages were spoken and then understood between the animals. The bear, in its brightly patterned overalls, is a typically American teddy bear; the tiger is a whimsical recreation of the Egyptian sphinx; and the snake with its yellow ochre stucco finish recalls the architecture of Latin America. The multilingual art team underscored the value of knowing and speaking different languages.

Marquet introduced CPAG artists to solid masonry construction methods. The basic form was roughed in with cinder blocks and mortar; then concrete and progressively smaller cut masonry pieces were used to sculpt the final contours of the animals. The bear is covered with ceramic mosaic. The tiger is finished with glazed commercial brick and porcelain tile “quilt” designs. The snake is embedded with mosaics done by the school children.