From 2018 until this past January, an army of troll sculptures decorated the grounds of the Morton Arboretum, drawing record numbers of visitors to the park in suburban Lisle. Starting this week, a new large-scale exhibit will officially make its debut on the park's 1,700-acre grounds—this time made up of five fantastical, 15- to 26-foot-tall sculptures depicting the intersection between the human and natural worlds.
Titled "Human+Nature" (and pronounced "human nature"), the exhibition takes an imaginative look at the importance of trees in the Arboretum's work, melding massive humanoid statues by South African artist Daniel Popper into the surrounding natural areas. A 37-foot-long set of human hands, called "Basilica," extends toward guests from mature oak trees in the park's Daffodil Glade, while "UMI" casts a maternal look amid a glen of magnolia trees on the east side. Many of the sculptures—which are constructed from reinforced concrete, wood, fiberglass and steel—have technically been on view for the past few weeks as Morton Arboretum staff slowly assembles each statue. The exhibit's opening coincides with the completion of the final sculpture, and all of the works will remain on display for at least a year.
"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 in a press release. "I want people to come here and ask questions of themselves about their relationship with nature."
"Human+Nature" opens May 28 and admission is included with regular time-entry tickets to the Arboretum—take a look at some of the fantastical sculptures below.