An Arlington Heights sculptor, Joseph Burlini, shared the spotlight earlier this month with Cardinal Francis George and Talat Othman, one of the founding members of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.
They gathered at the Rosewood Restaurant in Rosemont for an appreciation dinner honoring the Cardinal for years of support for the Muslim community. In attendance were nearly 300 Muslims, Catholics and community leaders.
"I don't think his support for us is widely known, but we met with him when he first came to Chicago in 1997," said Othman, a former Long Grove resident, now of Chicago. "He now comes to one of our mosques every year during Ramadan, and has been very supportive of religious freedom."
Burlini has drawn major commissions, ranging from the Pentagon to Walt Disney Studios, as well as from many suburban municipalities.
This winter, he was tapped to design the award for George. It was his 14th year of working with the Council, since they first honored Muhammad Ali in 2000.
George's award was carved out of Plexiglas and features two birds surrounded by branches from a historic tree from the ancient city of Samarkand, and all in an emerald green tint, reflecting the color of the Prophet Muhammad.
"The chance to design a representation of peace was a thrill for me," Burlini said. "My whole life has been about that."
Othman said the image on the circular award blended life and nature, and he hoped that the Cardinal would find it soothing in the coming months as he continues his cancer treatments.
"I hope when he looks at it," Othman said, "that he finds a sense of peace and tranquillity."