ARTWORK + > Mending Wall

Mending Wall, 2021–2024

A collaborative project between the public, Jenny Kendler and the Field Museum's Pandemic Collections Team, with support from the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)

Mending Wall is located near the Field Museum's northeast corner on Chicago's museum campus



Project Statement
Drawing on the American vernacular form of the stone wall, Mending Wall, a sculptural and community co-created project by environmental artist Jenny Kendler, offers space in which to honor our collective grief—and share our individual hopes and fears in this moment of intersecting crises.

We pause to honor our pain for the world amidst a global pandemic, the gun violence epidemic, the worsening climate crisis, and the interrelated struggle for racial justice. Taking inspiration from Robert Frost’s classic poem, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea novels and the artist’s childhood visit to the Wailing Wall, a 25ft fragment of dry-stacked stone wall, built of reclaimed Chicago cobble-stone, stands as a memorial, a crossed barrier, a boundary. Surrounding the memorial wall, a natural area of native perennial plants and organic stone seating provides space for contemplation and appreciation of the natural world.

In our divided country, a wall can seem to keep us apart—but also provides a metaphor for how we the people can constitute form, building our city stone by stone. Members of the public of all ages are invited to leave a message from this moment of crisis, for a Chicago 100 years hence—and rolling the paper, place it in a crack of the mortarless wall. In collaboration with the Pandemic Collections team at the Field Museum, the messages will be archived for the future as well as shared with today’s public at the museum.



Public Invitation and Engagement
The project invites the public to write and contribute messages to their neighbors of today, as well as Chicagoans 100 years hence. These could be stories from individual’s lives, reflections on the times, hopes, remembrances, fears, messages of loss or even visions of the future of our city. We aim not to restrict, but rather make space for authentic reflection. The form can be anything from notes on scrap paper to printed and prepared letters. The project invites the messages to be rolled and inserted into the cracks of the wall, metaphorically demonstrating how we, with our diverse views, our stories—hopeful, fearful, yearning—our imaginings, our dreams—which hold this wall, and our city and communities, together.

Mending Wall
Reclaimed Chicago cobblestones, blue stone, limestone accent and site stones, reinforcing posts, concrete mesh, native plants
4 x 2 x 24 ft.
2022
Mending Wall
Reclaimed Chicago cobblestones, blue stone, limestone accent and site stones, reinforcing posts, concrete mesh, native plants
4 x 2 x 24 ft.
2022
Mending Wall
Reclaimed Chicago cobblestones, blue stone, limestone accent and site stones, reinforcing posts, concrete mesh, native plants
4 x 2 x 24 ft.
2022

Public Events

Throughout the duration of the project, free, publicly accessible events will be held at the Mending Wall, which will include guided meditations, dance performances, poetry readings and mending workshops. Continue to check this space for dates or contact the artist if you'd like to use the space for a related public event.

Friday 7/22/22 | 10-12:30am CT
Gathering: a morning community guided meditation & writing experience with Niku Kashef

Workshop description:
Coming together both in person and zoom-livestream-accessible from the Mending Wall at the Field Museum. This guided morning workshop will include: accessible still and gentle moving meditations; playful awareness practices; discussion, community; and writing. A creative, generative morning of healing, rest, gentle inquiry, and exploration supported by moments of silence and pause to fully gather what you need. This is a headphones-accessible event.

Friday 7/22/22 | 1pm-1:30pm CT
Drop in Mindfulness Meditation with Niku Kashef
In-person & offered hybrid via zoom for registered participants

Wed 7/27/22 | 1pm-1:30pm CT
Drop in Mindfulness Meditation with Niku Kashef
In-person & offered hybrid via zoom for registered participants
*Free Registration*

Wed 7/27/22 | 5:30p-7:00pm CT
Internal Flame: an evening community guided meditation & writing experience with Niku Kashef
*Free Registration*

Workshop description:
An evening circle both in person and zoom-livestream-accessible from the Mending Wall at the Field Museum. This guided evening meditation will explore how we access our inner light and joy through accessible and gentle guided meditations; a focus on our internal fire through discussion of ancient practices; breath, guided meditation and writing. A generative evening supported by moments of silence and pause. This is a headphones-accessible event.

For all events, participants may wish to bring:
• Headphones, zoom via on/a cell phone (also used by in-person participants to be able to share space as they most feel supported)
• A yoga mat, cushion or chair for comfort in outdoor practice
• A hat, scarf, warm layer or personal sun protection as needed
• A journal, & preferred writing utensil (we will have paper for you)
• Water bottle

Niku Kashef, an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes mindfulness and meditation facilitation, teaching, studio and post-studio work, relational practices, site-specific installation, immersive art experiences, writing, curation, social engagement, public-speaking, crowdsourced participatory projects, and advocacy. Niku is a Lecturer of Art at California State University, Northridge and Adjunct at the School of Media, Culture & Design at Woodbury University. A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion specialist, Niku is Emeritus Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion for the Board of Directors of the College Art Association, where she currently serves as Board Secretary. Niku holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography, is a 200RYT (registered yoga teacher), through Yoga Alliance, and completing 500 hours in July 2022; she is a 2022 cohort in the Training in Mindfulness Facilitation program with the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and a member of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association. More at @nikukashefstudio & @nikukashef