Urban Buddha: the new attraction at Chicago’s Grant Park.

The Chicago Grant Park Conservancy has added a new art attraction at its Skate Park on October 25. The statue, unofficially dubbed “Urban Buddha” is a 15-foot-tall wooden Buddha sculpture crafted by the Tibetan artist Tashi Norbu.

The wooden Buddha, formally named “Be the flower, not the bee,” is “a silent speech addressed to every bystander, and a message of awareness about environmental issues like: global warming, palm oil production, and tropical deforestation in Amazonia and Tibet. The icon of Sakyamuni calling the Earth as a witness, in the gesture of Bhumiparsa, [has been] realized by the assemblage of recycling wood marked with sacred and ritual signs,” explains Norbu.

Aside from showcasing Tibet’s culture and arts, Norbu is traveling the world and creating sculptures which he hopes will capture the attention of people on things happening in his country and the rest of the world. Crafted from 3,500 pounds of reclaimed wood, the Urban Buddha urges awareness on the issues of deforestation and the effects of global warming particularly in Tibet and the dwindling Amazon forest.

The creation and installment of the $20,000 sculpture is a combined effort of Norbu, North Branch Management, Re-Use Depot, and the Chicago Park District. It will stay on display at the park for six months with a possibility of a six-month extension.

Park officials hope the new sculpture will draw more people to the park. The Urban Buddha is certainly an intriguing piece that people will talk about. For another park official, the new sculpture can be considered a social work “in the sense of peace, benevolent acts and expanding cultural awareness through art.”

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