Caracol—A Gathering Space

Drawing on rich connections from the natural world and cultural symbolism, Caracol (“snail” and “shell” in Spanish) is an outdoor learning and creative space along the Burnham Wildlife Corridor in Chicago. The space represents the immigrant's desire to belong while maintaining the core of memory and identity. Snails perform a critical role in the food chain, breaking down plant matter and aiding in the nutrification of the soil. Likewise, immigrants' economic and cultural contributions enrich and revitalize the host society. 

Caracol's main feature is a spiral-shaped table that can function as a work or picnic table and as a painting surface to showcase the work of local artists. Additional features include a stage and a hopscotch game that uses Mesoamerican numbers. 

Murals on the Lakefront

In 2017, the Caracol team commissioned three murals by Chicago-based artists. Ramón Marino (below, left) used traditional Mexican motifs in a mural titled Birds of Illinois. Victoria Martinez's mural Aquatic Vibes and Breeze dialogues with nearby views of Lake Michigan (below, right). Miguel López's Blossoming in Eternity (bottom) symbolizes the brief cycle that living beings experience on earth while framing this ephemeral existence within a larger phenomenon that has no beginning or end.

Murals on the Lakefront was partially supported by an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Detail of Florecer en la Eternidad (Blossoming in Eternity) by Miguel López. 

Caracol was designed by artists Georgina Valverde, Diana Solís, and José Terrazas with technical assistance from Terry Guen Design Associates . 

Caracol is a partnership with Moira Pujols-Quall from Contratiempo NFP, a Chicago-based organization whose mission is to highlight the cultural contributions of the Spanish-speaking immigrant community in the United States. 

The Gathering Spaces were built with support from the Chicago Park District. The Gathering Spaces are  part of the Roots & Routes Initiative at the Field Museum and were curated by a volunteer committee comprised of arts professionals and community leaders. 

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