NLI announces arrival of Phoenix sculpture to Rockford area

The Natural Land Institute has chosen the Phoenix, a beautiful, mythical bird, as a symbol of its work to preserve and restore wildlife and natural lands in the Rock River Valley.

A 6-foot metal sculpture of the bird is traveling to local venues of importance in Rockford starting Feb. 25, continued moving through the arrival of spring on March 20, and completes its travels on April 28 when it lands at the Rockford Regional Airport.

The public is invited to search for the Phoenix and to report their sightings by sending a postcard to the Natural Land Institute, 320 South Third St. Rockford, IL, 61104. Prizes include guided tours to local natural areas and will be awarded to winners whose cards are drawn.

The sculpture has a head and wings that resemble the shape of a crane. Constructed of recycled materials, it is the creation of artists Gary W. Simon and John Cygan of Belvidere. In the outdoors, the Phoenix will move with the wind, as the metal flames of fire turn below it in opposite directions.

Birds in general represent the bearers of messages, and the Phoenix symbolizes an awakening of our love of nature and connection to the natural world. The legendary bird at death bursts into flames, and then rises from its own ashes. It represents the work of the Natural Land Institute, the private, not-for-profit conservation organization that since 1958 has preserved some of the best prairies, forests and wetlands in northern Illinois.

The Phoenix brings a positive message of hope and renewal to the entire Rockford community. The sculpture is constructed of metals, representing Rockford’s industrial past. It also represents rebirth and renewal, giving the message of creative, positive change for Rockford and its future.

On April 28, the Phoenix sculpture will be auctioned at the Natural Land Institute’s first annual fund-raising gala held at the Rockford Regional Airport. Call 815/964-6666 for information about the event that features a nature theme, art exhibits, music and gourmet food.

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