Steve Gaeth

Recompense

2018

Palmer Square Park

           

Artist Statement: Recompense captures the elevation of the human spirit. This is achieved through the unification of a diverse population, that in engaged in an act of penance. The human, yet androgynous, figures exude strength and grace as they join together in a monumental task. The rotund form of each figure adds to the challenge of the action. They must work as one, in unity, to achieve the collective goal.

The inspiration for this work initially came from a secular source. The artwork should not be interpreted as belonging to any particular faith or denomination; rather, it is intended to be a celebration of the universal goals of unity and diversity within a community. Logan Square is a living embodiment of this philosophy. While completing this piece I was approached by many passersby and exchanged many kind and encouraging words. I met many care workers and dog walkers, parents and nannies, each with their own responsibility for the survival of the community. The physical struggle depicted in the piece is echoed in the runners on the Palmer Square path, each engaged in their own strenuous act of self-improvement.

Recompense is not intended to diminish the importance of spirituality; instead, it blends elements of diverse spiritualties. The figures nod to the Serbian Orthodox church across the boulevard, while simultaneously facing northeast, in the direction of observance for mecca. The staining, multi-hued figures acknowledge the diversity of the neighborhood. Enlightenment and transformation is implied as the trunk of the tree lightens through the act of redemption. The designation of distinct wood stains and the position of each figure is important for the interpretation of this piece. The assigned order of the figures conveys a message about who bears responsibility for the survival of the community, while also showing that survival can only be achieved through collective effort.

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