JILL WAGNER Leggy Legacy: Keep in touch with those who are missing or have been lost through an imagining of the abduction of Persephone by Hades, Greek god of the underworld, in this Terrain Biennial public exhibition, “Persephone’s Souvenirs” at 540 Thomas, by artist Gina Lee Robbins.

Scarecrows are not the only thing popping up all over town. Terrain Exhibitions has been turning heads and raising curiosity in town, too.

An architectural inflatable, celebrating the human need for social connection creates a sensual landscape design on the 900 block of Marengo and a captivating woven shape peers over a fence on Thomas and Adams.   

The work is part of Terrain Biennial, an international public art festival from Oct. 2 to Nov. 15. The late Sabina Ott founded the event from her porch in Oak Park to connect neighbors and collaborators and build community.

Gina Lee Robbins said, “the work started in Sabina Ott’s front yard to bring public art to private spaces.” Robbins, whose work, “Persephone’s Souvenirs,” can be experienced at 540 Thomas, highlights the cycle of rebirth and reunion through the Greek story of Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus who is abducted by Hades.  

Each artist was asked to consider relationships and connections when creating their projects and instillations. After a year of lockdown, the theme is K.I.T. (keep in touch), a sentiment often put at the end of pen pal letters and yearbook signatures, creating a common narrative across the global participants.

Seven exhibits have been created in Forest Park:

  • 540 Thomas: “Persephone’s Souvenirs” by Gina Lee Robbins
  • 446 Thomas: “Hanging Around” by Karen Gubitz
  • 908 Marengo: “Life in Progress” by Judith Brotman and Burton Isenstein 
  • 904 Marengo: “Marengo” by Rosalynn Gingerich  
  • 7310 Adams: Liz Chilsen, Alberto Aguilar and Madeleine Aguilar
  • 7723 Adams: “Jaune” Jae Green
  • 7650 Wilcox: “Emerge” by Bryan Northup

Robbins, is hosting one of of the two communicating exhibits that connect Forest Park to Oak Park by Bryan Northup. He wrote in his statement that he “uses single use plastic, creating beautiful sculptures.”  The piece, “Emerge,” on 7600 Wilcox is communicating with a piece at 149 Harrison St. in neighboring Oak Park.  

“If fortunate,” wrote Northup in his statement, “we’ve been forced to face our half-faced fellow humans for what seems all of our recent memory. Masked against a virus, against smiles, against recognition. … And yet, we’re emerging. …  Still we are pushing through the ongoing unknowing when we will recognize ourselves again.”

With over 250 artists projects featured, the website, terrainexhibitions.org, maintains an interactive map to find all the of the work and artist websites.  Self-guided walking tours can be organized using the map.  While the location density is higher in Oak Park, Forest Park and neighboring suburbs, exhibits have spread to Downers Grove,  Indiana, Connecticut, California, Austria, India and  in neighborhoods across the globe all with the spirit to “keep in touch.”