URBAN REVITALIZATION/Naperville paves the way to a new downtown
When Naperville, Ill., began a downtown revitalization program last year, city officials decided to incorporate outdoor art as an image booster. They commissioned an artist to create a stone labyrinth in the Riverwalk area to accompany other outdoor sculptures.
Modeled after a similar piece at France’s Chartres Cathedral, which was built around 1202, Naperville’s 40-foot-wide labyrinth serves as a pedestrian-friendly piece of art for downtown visitors. It was first suggested by the city’s Celebration 2000 committee as a permanent, commemorative piece of art. The artwork’s winding path, symbolic of the road of life, has become a popular symbol for the new millennium, according to artist Marty Kermeen with Artistic Pavers, the Plano, Ill.-based company that built the piece.
Completed in 1998, the Riverwalk labyrinth has been used by adults and children for entertainment as well as meditation. “Not a day goes by that I don’t see someone walking on it,” says Riverwalk project manager Pete Crawford. “People just naturally participate.”
The project required about six weeks of work from Kermeen. He determined the dimensions and colors, then drew a life-size stencil, which was placed at the Riverwalk park. Using a diamond-tipped saw blade, he cut out each of the square stones and placed them together like a puzzle. “What makes the labyrinth so special is not just its meaning, but the craftsmanship and the quality of the art,” Crawford says.
The significance of the art as a healing structure caught the eye of Littleton, Colo., officials, who have selected Kermeen to create the Columbine Peace Labyrinth. Located about 3 miles from Columbine High School at the Columbine Unitarian Universalist Church, the piece will serve as a permanent memorial to the students and teacher killed in last spring’s school massacre. It will be designed as a place of healing and meditation for all residents.
The memorial will not display the victims’ names, but it will include the five-petaled Columbine flower – the state flower – in honor of the victims and the school. Local officials and residents are raising money for the project, which will cost about $100,000. They hope to have it completed in October for the six-month anniversary of the shooting.