Trace Elements - CODAworx

Trace Elements

Submitted by Dan Mayer Studios

Client: PHX Sky Train, Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program

Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States

Completion date: 2012

Artwork budget: $1,240,000

Project Team


Daniel Mayer

Dan Mayer Studios


HOK Architecture

HOK Architecture

Industry Resource

Walters and Wolf Glass Installers

Walters and Wolf Glass Installers

Industry Resource

Dinter Lighting

Industry Resource

Chad White, artist's digital assistant

Public Art Agent

Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program

Rebecca Blume Rothman, Program Manager

Industry Resource

Advance Terrazzo

Advance Terrazzo

Industry Resource

Erica Behrens

Franz Mayer of Munich, Program Manager


Daniel Mayer, a Tempe book artist, designed two large-scale glass murals “Trace Elements” from a series of Arizona nature prints. The public art commission is integrated into the PHX Sky Train pedestrian bridges located in Phoenix, Arizona. The murals consist of 28 laminated glass panels measuring 9’x115’ each. Mayer collected leaf specimens from different eco zones and imprinted them onto aluminum foil through an etching press. Digitally scaled up, the fourteen nature prints were formatted for the scope of the architectural murals and composed in a rhythmic book-page sequence. Fabrication includes screenprinting and hand-painted ceramic glazes on kiln-fired float glass.


This public art project is integrated into the architecture of the PHX Sky Train pedestrian bridges. The multi-modal transportation system connects Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to the metropolitan light-rail system. Mayer’s backlit glass bridges welcome 10,000 visitors per day with a rich sense of color and wonderment that represents Arizona’s diverse landscape. The processes to create the glass include modern engineering combined with old world craftsmanship. Daniel Mayer worked in close collaboration with more than 100 artisans, crafts and trades to accomplish this large-scale public art project.


Daniel Mayer selected the fabricator Mayer of Munich to carry out his vision for this large-scale public art project. The collaboration was a seamless creative and technical path in the internationally recognized glass studio. The result is a richly layered and detailed public artwork reflecting the aesthetic of Mayer's books. Mayer refers to the glass as “dimensional printmaking” with the foreground master images “floating” off the hand-painted background glass providing a depth of field and movement.

The collaboration also included Dinter Lighting, Walters and Wolf for framing and installation, Advance Terrazzo for the cobalt blue terrazzo floor that Mayer specified with recycled glass and crushed mirror, and Chad White as the artist's digital assistant.

This project received the Award of Merit for Art in Public Places by the 33rd Valley Forward Environmental Excellence Awards. These awards set standards for achieving a balance between the built and natural environment in the region's physical, technical, social and aesthetic development.