Strange Continents was commissioned by the City of Denver as part of its Hotel and Transit Center project at Denver International Airport, which included a new light rail line from downtown Denver, and the construction of a new hotel. The piece spans 1875 square feet of interior wall space within a long corridor that connects the transit center and the main lobby of the hotel. Managed by Westin Hotels, the piece needed to meet the design goals of the hotel group, which included abstraction, pattern, and reference to nature.
The goals for this piece were to activate the space through conceptual interest, bright color, and dimensional materials. The imagery for Strange Continents is derived from hundreds of photographs of the Platte River at Confluence Park in Denver, where it flows over a series of man-made boulders, creating a waterfall that cascades through the park. These photographs were digitally manipulated to arrive at a vocabulary of shapes that were composed to resemble a global map. The dichotomies of natural and urban, local and global are central to the piece, and reflect a broader interest in the relationship between growing cities and their natural environments. Here, the use of color references global maps and inserts larger themes of geography and travel. The materials in the piece – latex paint and cut resin – are both architectural and residential, emphasizing the urban quality of the piece. Ultimately, Strange Continents is also about the space, a long corridor. The piece progresses at a pedestrians pace in either direction, unwinding at each end. The piece flows through the space like the river it references, and it invites reflection along its course.
The fabrication of the piece involved collaboration with Demiurge, a Denver-based art fabrication studio that cut and installed the dimensional aspects of the work. Demiurge worked to procure the dimensional materials, 3-Form cast resin, cut the material to my specifications and install based on the overall design. As a percent for art project, the overall design of the space involved areas that were designated for artwork, as such my process involved quite of bit of creative freedom, within the constraints of design and color goals identified by Westin.
Strange Continents was installed onsite over the course of two months, during which I hand-painted the piece directly on the wall. Working with a team of three assistants, we transferred the overall design to the wall from drawings made in my studio, and then painted the piece using artists brushes and latex paint. Working within an ongoing construction site, the piece was in a sense performative, as we painted the piece in view of those visiting and working on the site. After the piece was painted, Demiurge installed the dimensional resin pieces to complete the work.
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