Finding Sunlight in the Shadows

Harold Washington Library

Harold Washington Library © 2012 Bo Mackison

When I was in Chicago last week, I remembered an old feeling – the feeling of being surrounded by shadow. When I first moved to Chicago, I missed the feeling the sunlight on my face. I was a young twenty-something, plunked from the cornfields and small towns of western Illinois, and transplanted into the skyscraper land of Chicago. I don’t think I ever got over the feeling of shadows on my shoulders while I lived in the midst of the tall buildings of downtown Chicago.

I do remember I spent as much time as possible walking the eastern border of Chicago, the visually endless waters of Lake Michigan. I was saved from the shock of transplanting, soothed  by the lapping of the waves of the Great Lake.

When I returned to Chicago, and stayed in the South Loop, I once again had the “shadows on my shoulders” feeling. Except for midday, I walked in the shadows of the skyscrapers and tall buildings.But this time around, I knew where to walk to capture the sunlight.

Eagle in Seed Pods - Ornament on Roof of Harold Washington Library, Chicago Illinois

Eagle in Seed Pods ©2012 Bo Mackison

One of the most prominent buildings, the Harold Washington Library, wasn’t around when I called Chicago home. Set firmly on an entire large square block, its roof decor always seemed to capture abundant sunlight. I enjoyed the feel of the sunlight as it highlighted the features on the roof of this massive building.

The library opened in 1991. and is the largest public library building in the world. In 1993, seven large copper ornaments were added to the roof  – one at each corner and one in the center of the building facing State Street, Congress Avenue, and Van Buren Street.

These ornaments represent seed heads, symbolic of the natural bounty of the Midwest. I’m quite certain that the ornaments would not have been enough to sooth the soul of a transplanted young woman with country roots if they had been around in the mid-70s, but they are a distinctive landmark in the current Chicago landscape.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She photographed a few Chicago cityscapes while attending the Filter Photo Festival last week.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Leave it to Seeded Earth to find copper seed heads in downtown Chicago. Water calms me and grounds me, too. Your photography is a fabulous combination, Bo. Landscapes and cityscapes; macro flowers and geometric architectural elements; habitats of both man and nature. I adore this image for its symmetrical beauty, the colors and the story that comes with it. Lovely, dear.

  2. Imagine seed heads in the middle of Chicago

  3. Chicago has always been one of those cities to which I want to visit. Thank-you for taking me there thru your camera’s lens!

  4. Two pleasing photos of architectural details. Very pleasing.

  5. I don’t think I saw the Harold Washington Library the last time I was in Chicago. Beautiful captures, Bo. 🙂

Leave a Reply