Lightbird Sky Canvas, 1440 Stanford Ave, Emeryville, CA - CODAworx

Lightbird Sky Canvas, 1440 Stanford Ave, Emeryville, CA

Submitted by Therese Lahaie

Client: City of Emeryville, Visual Artist Grant

Location: Emeryville , CA, United States

Completion date: 2022

Artwork budget: $50,000

Project Team

Provided property for Lightbird projection

Ken Schmier

LPC Real Estate Corporation

Engineering Optical Mirror mounting systmes

Guy Marsden


Engineering mounting systems of optical mirror

Walt Pyle

Hion Solar

Bird Scientist

Hanna Moon

University of Hawaii

Lighting Designer

Max Pierson

Minuscule Lighting


The sun’s movement reflected on optical mirrors reflects the shapes of birds on an architectural scale.
These time-based Lightbird reflections move across building walls as their sky canvas with the sun’s arc. The sky canvas is a 28′ h x 200′ l north-facing wall at 1440 Stanford Street in Emeryville.
Lightbirds fly from west to east throughout the day, shifting their migratory path with the position and azimuth of the sun.
The Lightbird optical mirror is mounted across the street on the south-facing wall 26′ h at 1475 Powell Street, Emeryville, CA. As the sun rises in the east, the Lightbird reflection appears and continues its slow flight across the sky canvas of 1440 Stanford Street. The Bay Area has 291 sunny days each year, allowing for a sustained and fluctuating migration in response to the sun’s movement.


Evoke a reverence for the birds that are no longer with us and those that remain.
Engineer the Lightbird mounting systems for light pole and wall installation, and refine optics for maximum sun reflection or the
Connect an urban audience to the sun's arc, highlighting birds as harbingers of information about our relationship with nature under human-created conditions.


When the pandemic came upon us, sunlight coming in through the eastern windows of my studio became my medium. Engineer Guy Marsden from Artec designed a system for mounting the optical mirrors on tripods so that I could take the show on the road for pop-up events of flocks of Lightbirds flying on sky canvases around the Bay Area and Hawaii. I invited bird scientists to join me. Through them, I learned that light pollution, warming oceans, drought, and fire impact their survival and that many species of birds' bodies have gotten smaller and their wings longer over the last 40 years.
I applied for a Visual Artist grant through the City of Emeryville LPC Real Estate Corporation to collaborate with me on this public art project. That conversation provided the large-scale sky canvas for 40' Lightbirds to fly on the 200' sky canvas of one of their properties for one year, Summer 2022 - 2023.

Additional Information

Viewers describe the Lightbirds as mysterious, beautiful, and ephemeral as they look up from their phones. The reflections fly slowly and change continuously, connecting us to the sun's arc to sunrise and sunset throughout the day. These birds are harbingers of information about our relationship with nature under human-cr