La Ronda Parakata

Lakefront Gathering Spaces/La Ronda Parakata
Chicago Park District
Written By Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park District owns more than 8,800 acres of parkland, making it the largest municipal park manager in the nation. Visit the Chicago Park District's 597 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 70 nature areas, & hundreds of programs.

La Ronda Parakata is a circular sculpture inspired by the magic symbolism of the monarch butterfly, harmony with nature, and migration. The delicate sculptural ring or “ronda” surrounding the gathering area is made up of interlocking butterfly forms. “Parakata” means butterfly in Purépecha (an indigenous people from the central western region of Mexico, primarily the state of Michoácan). The center of the space features native plants a repurposed dead ash tree from Chicago Park District parks. 

"The butterfly leaves and returns freely, but the immigrant cannot, and stays, cutting off the cultural umbilical cord of their home country." -Hector Duarte, Lead Artist

Monarch butterflies hold an important place in Mexican culture and tradition. Monarchs spend their winter hibernation period in the forests of Michoacán (in western central Mexico). The butterflies arrive in Mexico each year in late-October, coinciding with the important Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). During the annual holiday, deceased relatives are believed to return home where they’re honored. Some believe that the monarch butterflies that arrive in Mexico at this time of the year are the souls of the deceased returning to earth.

The artist team that created La Ronda Parakata began their design process by creating a scale model of the space. Then they made bent steel butterflies with interlocking wings to create a ring around the park space. Finally, they wrapped the butterflies in natural bamboo and finished the space with repurposed ash benches, and marigolds, a native flower to Mexico. 

Watch as the artists undertake the labor intensive process of hand bending one of the butterflies that make up the ring around the Gathering Space. 

Meet the team

Artists Hector Duarte and Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves worked with nonprofit partner Casa Michoacán in Pilsen on La Ronda Parakata. 

Casa Michoacán promotes cultural, social, and sporting activities with the Mexican immigrant community, specifically from the western central state of Michoacán, with a transnational vision.

Cover and process photos ©Sandra Steinbrecher 2016  //  Video by: Amber Mohammad Castañeda

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