The garden space at 11th Street and Wabash, is undergoing renovation during the summer of 2019 to turn it into an area where students can stage small-scale theatrical and musical productions and host events.

Formerly the Sculpture Garden, situated on an old parking lot when the space was purchased by the College, had opened May 15, 1990 with its first exhibition featuring four large steel sculptures created by then adjunct faculty member, Edward McCullough, from his ‘Elegy Series’. McCullough spent seven years working the ten-part series, inspired by the poem cycle “The Duino Elegies” by German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. 

Subsequent installations highlighted other regional artists and more permanent work was installed in May 1991. Two artists installed concrete works: car statues by then faculty member Tom Taylor of the Columbia College Art Department and wolves by sculptor Ellen Nasvik of Minnisota. The works were meant to depict the two separate worlds, human and nature. Another unnamed sculpture, also by Ellen Nasvik, depicts a crouching figure below an altar-like table, further exploring the human and nature theme.

Some of these works were damaged when a car jumped the curb and hit the sculptures. Tom Taylor chose not to rework his pieces, saying that "nature is the less hostile environment, and it has proven many times that it cannot withstand the effects of a city." Ellen Nasvik created a new concrete piece in 1993 that continued the wolf theme,  entitled "The Leaping Wall," where three wolves stand in front of a 54" wall.  The Columbia Chronicle from 1993 quotes the artist describing her inspiration "The Leaping Wall is somewhat like a fairy tale which characterizes imagination in an urban setting." 

Openlands, an organization that works to protect the natural and open spaces of northeastern Illinois, worked with Columbia College Chicago from 2005 until 2008 to convert this space with native Illinois plantings. Another project partner was Clean Air Counts, an initiative that promotes emission reduction strategies. In 2005, 663 plants from the Chicago Botanic Garden were relocated to the Sculpture Garden as part of the renovation project.

Quick Facts

  • Name: The Garden
  • Former Names: The Sculpture Garden
  • Address: Corner of South Wabash & East 11th Street
  • Size: 10,000 square feet
  • Acquired by College: 1989