“The Runners,” the long-anticipated sculpture commissioned by the Athens Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International is currently being installed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
The award-winning sculptor, Dr. Theodoros Papagiannis – a professor at the prestigious School of Fine Arts in Athens – has created many works of art, which are on display in Greece and abroad, and also in private collections. “The Runners,” which he started in 2005, is his first in the US.
“The Runners” has much symbolism. He stated, “First, it symbolizes immigration, that running from one place to another. It represents those immigrants who came from Greece to the US. It also brings a message of friendship, brotherhood between the two cities of Athens and Chicago. It also symbolizes Marathon and the road to the Olympics.” Additionally, it represents moving through time, like the figures on Ancient Greek pottery, emerging from antiquity to meet the present.
A gift to the City of Chicago public art collection, the sculpture will be on permanent display at the airport. The 16-foot sculpture has been funded through the support of Chicago’s Greek community.
“This gift represents the large Greek population here in Chicago and demonstrates the long history of friendship, goodwill, and exchange shared between Chicago and its Sister City of Athens,” said Demetrios Kozonis, Chair of the Athens Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International, in a written statement.
City of Chicago Acting Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and Special Events Katherine LaMantia said, “This new work of art represents a striking symbol of Greek-American relations past, present, and future.”
CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino said, “This compelling new sculpture helps promote Chicago as a world-class city and is a welcome addition to O’Hare’s artwork collection.”
Dr. Papagiannis said he “wanted to create something that complemented Chicago. It’s contemporary, it’s modern. Chicago’s very rich in its history of the arts. It’s important for the airport, for those coming to Chicago.”
The sculptor will return to Chicago at the end of the month to inspect the completed installation, and the sculpture will be unveiled during the first week of May.