Arbor

Submitted by Sijia Chen

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Client: City of Claremont

Location: Claremont, CA, United States

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $25,000

Project Team

Overview

Arbor is a sculptural interpretation of a tree trunk, and is comprised of three stainless steel panels. To emphasize the significance of trees in Claremont’s landscape, I engraved in both English and Latin are the names of trees found in the city of Claremont.

Goals

In Claremont’s request for proposals, they specifically referred to the significance of their rich and diverse tree population as a singular and defining element of their community. Their project criteria stated that a proposal should take into consideration the importance of site specificity, engagement with local narratives/history, and appropriate imagery and materials for public space. I was familiar with Claremont’s charming and picturesque setting, and it came naturally to me that Arbor would be an abstract interpretation of a tree, and would incorporate elements of my visual language and personal narrative. I first conceived of the visual concept for Arbor by sketching out some designs on my iPad. An essential element of Arbor was to encourage interaction with the public, taking into consideration the high visibility and footprint outdoor location, which influenced my decision to utilize stainless steel, for its strength and durability.

Process

I wanted the work to be minimal and elegant in form, devoid of any excess visual weight, with a matte finish to its surfaces that conveyed texture and graining. Once I settled Arbor’s basic structure and visual lines, I imposed a visual rendering on digital images of the project site. It was crucial to be able to visualize and evaluate Arbor in relation to its positioning in front of Claremont’s City Hall. Once I was satisfied with Arbor’s size, orientation, and dialogue with respect to its surroundings, I worked with a CAD specialist and structural engineer to ensure that its lines and overall structure were not only consistent with my original design, but also viable for fabrication. I personally oversaw the entire fabrication process, especially the engraving of the text, as this was a crucial visual element of the work. There was previously a large planter box at the project site, and a local construction company was engaged for the construction of the concrete foundation and final assembly and installation of the artwork, to ensure continuity and accountability for the entire project. Claremont's maintenance crew, along with my team, collectively supervised the final installation, along with procuring a long term maintenance and conservation plan.