ARTWORK + > Through the Eye of the Unicorn

Through the Eye of the Unicorn, 2024
Giovanni Aloi & Jenny Kendler
Gravel mound with plant species native to Bell Bowl Prairie, cedar fence, hand-silkscreened recycled poly-silk flags, upcycled carbon fiber poles

Prairies are intricate tapestries of biodiversity. Bell Bowl Prairie, an irreplaceable 8,000-year-old ecosystem, was substantially destroyed in the recent expansion of Chicago Rockford International Airport. In response, Through the Eye of the Unicorn, an installation inspired by the well-known series The Unicorn Tapestries, encourages us to rethread our connections with nature. More than just memorializing, it urges us to engage in ecological preservation— from “freeing” grasslands in our own yards to restoring prairies statewide.

Can Illinois still call itself the “Prairie State,” when about half of the remaining 2,500 acres of the original 22 million acres of prairie are still unprotected? As artists, we call on our government to protect and expand endangered ecosystems. These flags represent the colors of the vanished prairie and will support this intention, mobilizing public opinion and engaging politicians at future public demonstrations.

At the conclusion of the project, the native plants, all representing species once found at Bell Bowl Prairie, will be distributed to the public, encouraging rewilding.

Commissioned by the Chicago Botanic Garden, and created in collaboration with garden scientist Matt Evans, the living project will be on display June 1st–Sept 22nd, 2024.