Shencheng Xu’s “Catch Up” — one of 12 works of art on display along Harrison Street, between Ridgeland Avenue and Austin Boulevard, during this year’s Oak Park Sculpture Walk — is ironic, humorous, delightful, playful … and haunting.
If you download the free Otocast app on your smartphone, you’ll be able to hear brief descriptions of each sculpture by the artists themselves.
Xu explains that he combined the happy human faces “with caterpillars to express the close relationship between man and nature.” So close, in fact, that the two caterpillars, one bright orange and the other bright yellow, slither in place just feet away from an actual construction scene underway at the corner of Harrison Street and Lombard Avenue.
For a while (at least five minutes), I stood at the corner transfixed.
The worms are both incongruous and congruous at the same time — rising above the sidewalk with human faces and camouflaged with the colors of highway construction, chameleon-like.
Xu said he wanted the work to convey the importance of nature and why it must always be preserved. From a certain perspective, though, the worms on display symbolize what happens when, instead of harmonizing, man and nature clash.
The worms are bright, airy, light-hearted mutations. They’ll make an adult want to philosophize and a child want to play. Heady and hearty stuff.
And that’s just one sculpture. Imagine what thoughts and delights the rest of them might provoke. The works are on display until Sept. 4.