Client: Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance
Location: Chicago, IL, United States
Completion date: 2015
Artwork budget: $75,000
Sean Michael Gallero
Perception of color by plants varies greatly from humans. Through photosynthesis of the light spectrum, plants register two colors: blue as the direction for growth, red as an indication to bloom. Florescence reflected this phenomenon in a canopy of 880 blue and red translucence petal shapes in the Show House of the conservatory. This canopy was activated by light shining through the glass ceiling. Throughout the day, the rising and setting of the sun resulted in a series of colored shadows cast across the floor and plants below; a visual abstraction of this plant process. Size: 66’ x 34’
The Garfield Park Conservatory is lauded as one of the great architectural masterpieces in Chicago. Completed in 1907 by the famed landscaped architect Jens Jenson this revolutionary structure opened as the largest conservatory in the world. The glass structure contains distinct gardens connected by a series of contiguous pathways that run throughout the space. Majestic gardens present both contemporary and prehistoric plants in this vibrant environment. In 2011, a storm caused significant damaged to the glass building and the plants within the conservatory.
As part of an effort to raise awareness and draw public attention to the rehabilitation efforts, Luftwerk was commissioned for to create a year-long series of installations throughout the conservatory. Solarise: A Sea of All Colors was created as five distinct installations throughout the conservatory; each developed with a distinct point of view to frame, highlight, and interpret important elements of the garden within the glass structure. During the year long exhibition the number of visitors increased by 40%.
The Horticultural team of the Garfield Park Conservatory responded with great enthusiasm to Florescence and designed their seasonal flower shows in relation to the sculpture; at times the Show House transformed into a wonderland of color, featuring a vast variety of flora.
Through a site-specific intervention with landmark architecture, Luftwerk provided an opportunity for visitors and residents to experience the Garfield Park Conservatory in new ways. Art became the perfect foil to alter our often passive experience of structural design and nature, illuminating the urban oasis as a local treasure for all.