Client: Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind
Location: Colorado Springs, CO, United States
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $100,000
Public Art Services
Colorado Creative Industries
Carol A. Hilty
Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind
The bench, supported by four compression springs, rocks and sways. It’s possible to gently rock or to go for a ride, much the same way kids enjoy a spring-rider in a playground. The dynamics of compression springs and their uneven spacing means the structure responds differently depending on where one sits and how many people are sitting on the bench. The artwork’s sloped canopy includes nine translucent colored polycarbonate skylights and rocks along with the bench. On sunny days, the canopy’s shadow and color projections on the ground move in sync with the bench.
With my public artwork, I set out to engage visitors and foster a sense of community around an unlikely object or site. The works are spirited, accessible, participatory, and very often unexpected. My work creates an iconic nexus— a micro public square or landmark—which contributes to placemaking, and thus facilitates creative patterns of use while considering the physical, historical, and cultural identities of the site. By using industrial materials and disparate elements, my artwork aims to encourage engagement with the site, the work, and among the public itself. I do this by considering behavioral design and combining strong visuals with dynamic elements activated by people, changes in ambient light and/or the weather, thus making for a work that is in constant flux.
I often use industrial materials as a visual vocabulary as they are part of our everyday life. People are familiar with these materials and interact with them constantly — often without even recognizing it. I utilize this unnoticed acquaintance as a tactic for fostering a sense of community around an unlikely object or site and as a means of extending the possibilities of what a public artwork can be.
John Grant (Public Art Services) provided design development and fabrication services for the structure and installation. Nick Geurts (Yetiweurks) provided design and structural engineering services.
I use materials from the everyday outdoor environment—anything from benches, to swings, to canopies, to water—& bring them into the realm of art. I create a level of connection to the familiar while highlighting elements of awe & beguilement, often using existing artifacts from the site and retrofitting them to create a micro public square or landmark that encourages creative patterns of use. The artwork becomes part of the community's fabric & integral in shaping the way we live in public space. The idea is to surprise while fostering a sense of community around an unlikely object or site.