Press Release

Human+Nature exhibition opens this spring

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LISLE, Illinois (February 18, 2021)—The Morton Arboretum’s newest outdoor art installation, Human+Nature, will open this spring, after the original June 2020 opening was delayed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This will be the first major U.S. exhibition by renowned South African artist Daniel Popper, and his largest exhibition to date anywhere in the world. It will feature five 15- to 26-foot-tall sculptures created exclusively for the Arboretum. “The Morton Arboretum is the ideal place to create interactive art that connects people with trees and nature,” Popper said about collaborating with the Chicago-area tree museum. “The backdrops at the Arboretum are incredible places to tell stories through art about how we all coexist with trees.”

Built to create a sense of awe and wonder, the Human+Nature (pronounced “human nature”) sculptures will be in various locations across the 1,700-acre Arboretum site to lead guests to areas they may not otherwise explore. “Human+Nature will be uplifting and inspiring, inviting people to get outside to gain the benefits of spending time in nature,” explained Preston Bautista, Ph.D., vice president of learning and engagement. “All of the sculptures celebrate the human connection to trees.”

Among the images will be a towering interpretation of a female figure, diverse human facial traits interwoven with root structures and large-scale human hands. The thought-provoking impressions will represent that the Arboretum is a place where trees are nurtured, conservation is the work of many hands and nature is experienced with all of the senses, Bautista said. Made of glass-reinforced concrete, fiberglass and steel, each sculpture will weigh several metric tons. The largest ground footprint will be 28 feet wide and 37 feet long.

“Each sculpture has a story behind it, but I like to leave the questions about each piece a little bit open, so people can come and bring their own ideas to it,” Popper said, adding, “You will find more magic in things that way.”

Human+Nature will be included with timed-entry admission to the Arboretum. The exhibition is planned to run for at least one year.

About Daniel Popper

Daniel Popper is a multidisciplinary Cape Town, South Africa, artist known globally for his larger-than-life sculptures and spectacular public art installations. He is most acclaimed for his massive public art installations, including the memorial sculpture for the Nelson Mandela School of Science and Technology in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and sculptures for popular events such as the Boom Festival in Portugal and Rainbow Serpent Festival in Australia.