Chicago Botanic Garden - Flower
Flourish: The Garden at 50

Jerram and Stewart

Luke Jerram and Keli Stewart
Of Earth and Sky

Medium: words, turf paint, plywood letters
Where you will see it:  Esplanade, Bird Island, near Native Plant Garden, and Farm on Ogden


Luke Jerram and Keli Stewart - Artwork


Luke Jerram

Jerram artist statement:Of Earth and Sky is a large-scale installation of poetry created by the public through a process of workshops and online submissions. The poems are then curated and installed across multiple locations, forming a temporary sculpture trail where the public is able to discover and interact with the poetry, in a physical form.”

About the artist: Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations, and live arts projects. In 2021, the artist had 104 exhibitions in 17 different countries and works in permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Keli Stewart

Stewart artist statement: “I collaborated with participants and staff in the Garden’s Windy City Harvest urban agriculture program to create poems that reflect their experiences in bringing food, health, and jobs to local communities. Excerpts from the poems will be featured in Luke Jerram’s installation and on”

About the artist: Keli Stewart is a writer, educator, community builder, and founder of Front Porch Arts Center in Chicago. Her work has been featured in Quiddity, Muzzle Magazine, Warpland, and other publications. She recently was selected as a 2021-2022 School of the Art Institute Nichols Tower Artist-in-Residence.


Summer by Aniki Coates

I often find my sweetest memories here in our little Garden of Eden. I stare up at you, done picking my bouquet of dandelions and I see you against the blue sky. You in your steel-toed boots and baby blue denims, in some random button-up Dad shirt I can’t recall. Your J & L Steel Mill hat cocked back ever so slightly because of your heavy sweating. Handkerchief in your back pocket to catch the beads before your eyes go burning. Sweaty arms spotted with grass seeds and fertilizer. Your gold watch Mama and I gave you catches the sunlight and beams. “Neek, come here and hold this for me,” you say with gentle confidence. “Yes sir!!,” I belt. Little brown girl arms and gangly legs flailing about, running energetically to come to a halt at the edge of the garden. I carefully step between rows not to disturb the collards or sugar snap peas. I smile at the green tomatoes remembering the best fried green tomato sandwiches you made on Saturday mornings. I float with glee past the rows to hold the heavy green garden hose as you tighten the sprayer gun. Bitten by mosquitoes and rocks in my shoes…I’m so happy. It was always my heart’s joy to serve you.

You send me off for some other tool or gadget and I run through soft mushy grass - I smell its sweetness and chase grasshoppers on my way. You promised slices of watermelon on the back porch after we’re done. I giggle in broad anticipation. I return with rocks, grasshoppers in my pocket and that “thingie” you wanted off the red picnic table. Our own meeting place where Momma, you and I will be grinning and spitting out watermelon seeds and watching the sunset.

In tribute to my father, Raymond Middlebrooks 11-15-1932 --- 4-8-2020
I love you, Daddy.


Luke Jerram and Keli Stewart - Artwork

Luke Jerram and Keli Stewart - Artwork