The Morton Arboretum is planting seeds and growing roots.
Starting April 9, the arboretum unveils a massive sculpture exhibition, Steelroots, along with other sculptures by artist Steve Tobin, who designed the 9/11 art memorial Trinity Root near Ground Zero.
Mimicking a tree root structure, the collection's pieces will mainly sit in the 22-acre Conifer Collection. A bronze duo named Romeo and Juliet will greet visitors at the entrance. Other Tobin pieces include bronze sculptures titled "Forest Floors," a giant steel "Pinecone" and sculptural works in clay from his "Exploded Earth" series.
"I think it's a great opportunity to think a little differently, to turn the tree upside down," says Angelique Dunning, manager of youth and family programs at Morton Arboretum.
This will be the arboretum's first display of fine art sculpture.
"There's a whole other community we don't see," says Dunning. "The roots are crucial. They're just beautiful."
The exhibition encourages interaction. Visitors can touch the sculptures, lie down beneath them and stroll around the huge roots. Different at all angles, the pieces' location will combine fine art in a relaxed environment.
"A number of activities, special events, rooms all tied to the exhibit will be planned," says Dunning.