CHICAGO — The first phase of Chicago’s AIDS Garden is complete — and, to celebrate, the park will soon reveal its 30-foot Keith Haring sculpture centerpiece.
The 2.5-acre public garden memorializes “the early days of Chicago’s HIV epidemic and [honors] those who continue to fight against the disease today,” according to a Chicago Parks Foundation news release. The AIDS Garden is situated on the lakefront between Belmont and Diversey harbors.
The first phase of work on the garden is now complete. The Parks Foundation plans to reveal the sculpture, called “Self-Portrait,” sometime this fall, though it hasn’t yet announced an exact date.
“The fight against HIV/AIDS represents more than a health epidemic: It symbolizes a time in our history when the LGBTQ+ and ally communities came together in the face of tragedy,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the city’s first openly gay mayor, in a news release. “We lost countless neighbors and friends and relatives over the years, but we have made significant strides in combatting the virus. What was one of the darkest moments of the 20th century has given way to a blooming garden of hope and love … .”
The garden’s “Self-Portrait” sculpture is based on a smaller piece of the same name by artist Keith Haring. Haring was an activist in the late ’80s and early ’90s who died from AIDS-related complications.
The sculpture will be the “signature anchor and gathering point” of the garden, according to the Parks Foundation.
Besides the sculpture, the AIDS Garden will also have plant-based features like a grove of Gingko trees and a perennial garden. There will also be spots open for future art installations.
The AIDS Garden is set to be complete in 2020. Once finished, it will feature areas “designed for reflection, education, honor and pride,” and there will be markers to lead visitors through the garden, according to the Parks Foundation.